From the journal

A balanced approach to Veganuary

The Health Benefits of Eating More Plants (A Balanced Approach)

We’re pretty sure you’re aware by now that it’s officially Veganuary. You might be trying out the vegan diet for yourself and if you’re not it’s highly likely that you know someone who is. This week we’re not going into how to eat a vegan diet healthily (we’ve covered that one. See here for more information of nutrients deficiency risks in the vegan diet). Rather we’re focusing on the health benefits of consuming more plants. This isn’t exclusive to those following a vegan diet at all. As the question we pose is: “Are the health benefits of the vegan diet influenced by a reduction in meat consumption or simply an increase in plant consumption?” We believe eating more plants is more beneficial than reducing your meat consumption. Equally you could argue that by increasing your plant consumption you’re naturally displacing meat and animal-based products. This is true yet this isn’t to say you have to become vegan in order to reap the benefits.

Dietary patterns


Within the world of nutrition it’s all too easy to draw premature conclusions rather than ask ourselves a wide range of questions. The point of this weeks blog is to encourage you to think about dietary patterns. Research suggests that meat consumption has increased by 62% since 1962. Alongside this, we have also seen a rise in type two diabetes incidence, risk of cardiovascular disease, increase in population obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol etc. Consequently, it might seem appropriate to suggest that meat were the cause of all this. It’s important to also consider the rise in stress, inactivity, sleep disorders, fast food and highly processed foods which may also play a role in the prevalence of these diseases. Therefore, before we go on to discuss the role of plants in our overall health we wish to highlight (once again) that you don’t have to go vegan to reap these benefits. If you’re a lover of meat or fish, it might be better for you to limit the highly processed meats, fast food and increase activity and plant consumption to reap your personal benefits.

So, what exactly are the benefits of increasing plants in your diet?

Much of the research has been conducted on plant-based diets. This term is commonly used interchangeably with the vegan diet although, there are large differences. The vegan diet excludes any animal or animal derived products, some vegans will also avoid the use of vegan derived products in their clothing, skincare and everyday products too. The term plant-based refers to a wide range of diets which focus on consuming more plants than animal products.

Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease


Research has shown that following a plant-based diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s suggested that eating a diet rich in plants naturally increases intakes of fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients. One study found that consuming 200g of fruits and vegetables daily reduces stroke risk by 16% and cardiovascular disease risk by 8%. Nuts have also been shown to contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease due to their fibre, healthy fats and protein content.

Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes


Research suggests that a plant-based diet (one based on wholefoods, rather than just the exclusion of animal products) is associated with improved insulin sensitivity and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This would suggest that the role of plants are more beneficial than the reduction of animal products as the research showed that these associations were stronger in relation to fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. 

Improved general wellbeing


Some research has suggested that eating more plants is associated with an improvement in general mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing and quality of life in individuals with diabetes. 

Evidently there are some benefits associated with eating more plants. Plant-based are not by default healthy. One common misconception is that people believe that by reducing their meat consumption they automatically become healthier. Research suggests that those following an animal free diet which is high in fried foods, refined grains, sugar sweetened beverages and sugar had an increased risk of coronary heart disease when compared with whole-food plant-based diets. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that everyone will feel differently on a plant-based diet and it’s recommended to eat in a way which suits you best as there is no one-size fits all!

Luo, C., Zhang, Y., Ding, Y., Shan, Z., Chen, S., Yu, M., ... & Liu, L. (2014). Nut consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition100(1), 256-269.

Satija, A., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Spiegelman, D., Chiuve, S. E., Manson, J. E., Willett, W., ... & Hu, F. B. (2017). Healthful and unhealthful plant-based diets and the risk of coronary heart disease in US adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology70(4), 411-422.

Qian, F., Liu, G., Hu, F. B., Bhupathiraju, S. N., & Sun, Q. (2019). Association between plant-based dietary patterns and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine179(10), 1335-1344.

Toumpanakis, A., Turnbull, T., & Alba-Barba, I. (2018). Effectiveness of plant-based diets in promoting well-being in the management of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care6(1), e000534.

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The Health Benefits of Eating More Plants (A Balanced Approach)

We’re pretty sure you’re aware by now that it’s officially Veganuary. You might be trying out the vegan diet for yourself and if you’re not it’s highly likely that you know someone who is. This week we’re not going into how to eat a vegan diet healthily (we’ve covered that one. See here for more information of nutrients deficiency risks in the vegan diet). Rather we’re focusing on the health benefits of consuming more plants. This isn’t exclusive to those following a vegan diet at all. As the question we pose is: “Are the health benefits of the vegan diet influenced by a reduction in meat consumption or simply an increase in plant consumption?” We believe eating more plants is more beneficial than reducing your meat consumption. Equally you could argue that by increasing your plant consumption you’re naturally displacing meat and animal-based products. This is true yet this isn’t to say you have to become vegan in order to reap the benefits.

Dietary patterns


Within the world of nutrition it’s all too easy to draw premature conclusions rather than ask ourselves a wide range of questions. The point of this weeks blog is to encourage you to think about dietary patterns. Research suggests that meat consumption has increased by 62% since 1962. Alongside this, we have also seen a rise in type two diabetes incidence, risk of cardiovascular disease, increase in population obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol etc. Consequently, it might seem appropriate to suggest that meat were the cause of all this. It’s important to also consider the rise in stress, inactivity, sleep disorders, fast food and highly processed foods which may also play a role in the prevalence of these diseases. Therefore, before we go on to discuss the role of plants in our overall health we wish to highlight (once again) that you don’t have to go vegan to reap these benefits. If you’re a lover of meat or fish, it might be better for you to limit the highly processed meats, fast food and increase activity and plant consumption to reap your personal benefits.

So, what exactly are the benefits of increasing plants in your diet?

Much of the research has been conducted on plant-based diets. This term is commonly used interchangeably with the vegan diet although, there are large differences. The vegan diet excludes any animal or animal derived products, some vegans will also avoid the use of vegan derived products in their clothing, skincare and everyday products too. The term plant-based refers to a wide range of diets which focus on consuming more plants than animal products.

Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease


Research has shown that following a plant-based diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s suggested that eating a diet rich in plants naturally increases intakes of fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients. One study found that consuming 200g of fruits and vegetables daily reduces stroke risk by 16% and cardiovascular disease risk by 8%. Nuts have also been shown to contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease due to their fibre, healthy fats and protein content.

Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes


Research suggests that a plant-based diet (one based on wholefoods, rather than just the exclusion of animal products) is associated with improved insulin sensitivity and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This would suggest that the role of plants are more beneficial than the reduction of animal products as the research showed that these associations were stronger in relation to fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. 

Improved general wellbeing


Some research has suggested that eating more plants is associated with an improvement in general mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing and quality of life in individuals with diabetes. 

Evidently there are some benefits associated with eating more plants. Plant-based are not by default healthy. One common misconception is that people believe that by reducing their meat consumption they automatically become healthier. Research suggests that those following an animal free diet which is high in fried foods, refined grains, sugar sweetened beverages and sugar had an increased risk of coronary heart disease when compared with whole-food plant-based diets. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that everyone will feel differently on a plant-based diet and it’s recommended to eat in a way which suits you best as there is no one-size fits all!

Luo, C., Zhang, Y., Ding, Y., Shan, Z., Chen, S., Yu, M., ... & Liu, L. (2014). Nut consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition100(1), 256-269.

Satija, A., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Spiegelman, D., Chiuve, S. E., Manson, J. E., Willett, W., ... & Hu, F. B. (2017). Healthful and unhealthful plant-based diets and the risk of coronary heart disease in US adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology70(4), 411-422.

Qian, F., Liu, G., Hu, F. B., Bhupathiraju, S. N., & Sun, Q. (2019). Association between plant-based dietary patterns and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine179(10), 1335-1344.

Toumpanakis, A., Turnbull, T., & Alba-Barba, I. (2018). Effectiveness of plant-based diets in promoting well-being in the management of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care6(1), e000534.

Read more


Balance your Booze this Christmas

As Christmas is rolling around we can’t ignore the fact that the festive season is getting into full swing. Naturally this means more mince pies, more office chocolate and more celebrations involving alcohol. Now at The Transformation Chef we really are all about balance so fear not...

Read more

As Christmas is rolling around we can’t ignore the fact that the festive season is getting into full swing. Naturally this means more mince pies, more office chocolate and more celebrations involving alcohol. Now at The Transformation Chef we really are all about balance so fear not...

Read more


Mood Boosters for Winter Months

As winter has crept up on us and the days are shorter, the mornings and afternoons are darker it’s likely that your mood might fall a little bit lower too. Fear not though, we’re here with our top mood boosting tips to see you through the winter.

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As winter has crept up on us and the days are shorter, the mornings and afternoons are darker it’s likely that your mood might fall a little bit lower too. Fear not though, we’re here with our top mood boosting tips to see you through the winter.

Read more


Everything You Need To Know When Following A Vegan Diet

Veganism and plant-based eating have been on the rise over the past few years and right now it’s hotter than ever.

There are multiple claims plastered all over these diets from environmental benefits, economical benefits and health benefits. If the plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle sounds appealing to you we’re here to guide you on everything you need to know whilst following this way of eating. Considering November has #WorldVeganDay, we thought now was the perfect time to shine some light.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between plant-based eating and the vegan diet. Whilst they’re often used interchangeably there are some differences. Both diets are focused around the omission of consuming animal products or animal derived foods (e.g. dairy, honey and eggs etc) yet they do differ. A vegan diet is heavily focused on the removal of animal foods yet it can include highly processed alternatives. Veganism is also often more of a lifestyle choice where-by the values are carried through when it comes to clothing, accessories and beauty products too. A plant-based diet emphasises the importance of eating wholefoods which are derived from plants. Examples of these foods include: beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

There are many health benefits of eating more of a plant-based diet, namely increased fibre intake, increased phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants) and increased dietary diversity although there are also risks of nutrient deficiencies associated with this way of eating. Let us explain…

We’ve outlined some key nutrients which pose risk of deficiency and how you can minimise your risk below…

Calcium

You’ll likely be aware that calcium is vital for bone health. Around 99% of our calcium is stored in our bones with 1% in the blood. Deficiency can sometimes be challenging to identify though as when calcium in the blood drops it draws calcium from the bone. Therefore, it’s important to stay on top of your calcium intakes in order to prevent long term damage to your bones. Calcium is usually found in dairy and so following a plant-based diet can pose deficiency risk. Plant-based sources include: tofu, nuts, green leafy vegetables and seeds. We recommend ensuring that your plant-milks are fortified too.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for bone health and mood. It also plays an important role in helping with the absorption of calcium. You’ll be pleased to know that this nutrient risk is not limited to individuals on a plant-based or vegan diet. Vitamin D is difficult to get from the diet as dietary sources are limited to: eggs, milk, salmon and mushrooms. Consequently, we rely on the sun which stimulates the skin to synthesise vitamin D. As sun exposure is limited in the UK during the winter months it’s recommended to supplement with 10ųg.d and ensure your plant milks are fortified with this too.

Iron

Animal sources and plant sources of iron are often compared as being on par with each other. Although, what’s missed is that iron from animal sources (aka haem iron) is significantly more bioavailable than the iron from plant sources (aka non-haem iron). This means that more of the iron can be absorbed and utilised from animal sources than plant sources. As a result. you just need to be a little smarter when it comes to consuming plant sources. Try adding a source of vitamin C to your plant sources in order to increase the absorption. For example, squeeze lemon juice onto your greens. Other plant sources of iron include: nuts, seeds, beans and green leafy vegetables.

Iodine

This is a nutrient which isn’t spoken about as much although is very important in maintaining a healthy thyroid function. It’s usually found in dairy products and white fish but can also be found in seaweed (in very high quantities so eat in moderation), potatoes and prunes. Avoid supplementing with kelp as the iron levels are so high it poses a risk of toxicity.

Omega-3

This nutrient is predominantly found in its active forms (EPA and DHA) in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring- remember SMASH). You can also find omega-3 in its inactive form (ALA) in plant foods such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds. ALA needs to be converted into DHA and EPA before it can be used, this leads to much of the ALA getting lost in translation. As a result, it’s recommended to consume a source of omega-3 most days. E.g. add some flax into your porridge or try our hemp and banana pancakes.

Vitamin B12

This nutrient gets the most coverage when it comes to discussing a plant-based diet. B12 is vital for energy production. As B12 is mainly found in animal products and is limited in plant sources it’s recommended to supplement daily. Please speak to your health care provider though as medications and supplements can sometimes interact. Additionally, fortified milks, fortified yeast spreads and nutritional yeast are good sources of vitamin B12 too.

There you have the low down on the key nutrients to be aware of when following a plant based or vegan diet. Please monitor how you’re feeling (and don’t just go along with it because someone else told you too). We also recommend that you get your bloods done regularly to ensure you’re not deficient in any nutrients.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our full vegan range on our website too!  

Read more

Veganism and plant-based eating have been on the rise over the past few years and right now it’s hotter than ever.

There are multiple claims plastered all over these diets from environmental benefits, economical benefits and health benefits. If the plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle sounds appealing to you we’re here to guide you on everything you need to know whilst following this way of eating. Considering November has #WorldVeganDay, we thought now was the perfect time to shine some light.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between plant-based eating and the vegan diet. Whilst they’re often used interchangeably there are some differences. Both diets are focused around the omission of consuming animal products or animal derived foods (e.g. dairy, honey and eggs etc) yet they do differ. A vegan diet is heavily focused on the removal of animal foods yet it can include highly processed alternatives. Veganism is also often more of a lifestyle choice where-by the values are carried through when it comes to clothing, accessories and beauty products too. A plant-based diet emphasises the importance of eating wholefoods which are derived from plants. Examples of these foods include: beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

There are many health benefits of eating more of a plant-based diet, namely increased fibre intake, increased phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants) and increased dietary diversity although there are also risks of nutrient deficiencies associated with this way of eating. Let us explain…

We’ve outlined some key nutrients which pose risk of deficiency and how you can minimise your risk below…

Calcium

You’ll likely be aware that calcium is vital for bone health. Around 99% of our calcium is stored in our bones with 1% in the blood. Deficiency can sometimes be challenging to identify though as when calcium in the blood drops it draws calcium from the bone. Therefore, it’s important to stay on top of your calcium intakes in order to prevent long term damage to your bones. Calcium is usually found in dairy and so following a plant-based diet can pose deficiency risk. Plant-based sources include: tofu, nuts, green leafy vegetables and seeds. We recommend ensuring that your plant-milks are fortified too.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for bone health and mood. It also plays an important role in helping with the absorption of calcium. You’ll be pleased to know that this nutrient risk is not limited to individuals on a plant-based or vegan diet. Vitamin D is difficult to get from the diet as dietary sources are limited to: eggs, milk, salmon and mushrooms. Consequently, we rely on the sun which stimulates the skin to synthesise vitamin D. As sun exposure is limited in the UK during the winter months it’s recommended to supplement with 10ųg.d and ensure your plant milks are fortified with this too.

Iron

Animal sources and plant sources of iron are often compared as being on par with each other. Although, what’s missed is that iron from animal sources (aka haem iron) is significantly more bioavailable than the iron from plant sources (aka non-haem iron). This means that more of the iron can be absorbed and utilised from animal sources than plant sources. As a result. you just need to be a little smarter when it comes to consuming plant sources. Try adding a source of vitamin C to your plant sources in order to increase the absorption. For example, squeeze lemon juice onto your greens. Other plant sources of iron include: nuts, seeds, beans and green leafy vegetables.

Iodine

This is a nutrient which isn’t spoken about as much although is very important in maintaining a healthy thyroid function. It’s usually found in dairy products and white fish but can also be found in seaweed (in very high quantities so eat in moderation), potatoes and prunes. Avoid supplementing with kelp as the iron levels are so high it poses a risk of toxicity.

Omega-3

This nutrient is predominantly found in its active forms (EPA and DHA) in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring- remember SMASH). You can also find omega-3 in its inactive form (ALA) in plant foods such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds. ALA needs to be converted into DHA and EPA before it can be used, this leads to much of the ALA getting lost in translation. As a result, it’s recommended to consume a source of omega-3 most days. E.g. add some flax into your porridge or try our hemp and banana pancakes.

Vitamin B12

This nutrient gets the most coverage when it comes to discussing a plant-based diet. B12 is vital for energy production. As B12 is mainly found in animal products and is limited in plant sources it’s recommended to supplement daily. Please speak to your health care provider though as medications and supplements can sometimes interact. Additionally, fortified milks, fortified yeast spreads and nutritional yeast are good sources of vitamin B12 too.

There you have the low down on the key nutrients to be aware of when following a plant based or vegan diet. Please monitor how you’re feeling (and don’t just go along with it because someone else told you too). We also recommend that you get your bloods done regularly to ensure you’re not deficient in any nutrients.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our full vegan range on our website too!  

Read more


The Sugar Debate

As this week is Sugar Awareness Week what better time to delve into the good, the bad and the ugly of the sweet white stuff.

It’s no secret that as a population we consume way too much sugar and with the introduction of the sugar tax in April 2018 it’s clear that there are attempts to try and limit sugar consumption. At The Transformation Chef we strongly believe that knowledge is power and it’s for that reason that we want to outline the ins and outs of sugar to hopefully help you to understand why in very small amounts sugar can be sweet but in excess it can be somewhat sinister.

We’ve answered your most common sugar questions below.

What is sugar?

Sugar is defined as “a class of soluble, sweet tasting carbohydrates found in living tissues”. Sucrose and glucose are the most common types of sugar. Carbohydrates (with the exception of fibre) are broken down into glucose in the body to be used as energy. Excess sugar intake increases the need for insulin (the hormone which regulates blood sugar). Over a prolonged period of time the constant need for more insulin can lead to an increased risk of insulin resistance/ pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Where do we find sugar?

Trying to identify what sugar is in todays products can be challenging as it’s often hidden under a name which you may not be aware of as sugar. Food manufacturers are sneaking sugar into everything they can from yoghurts, to pasta sauces to cereals and even pre-made soups. To help you make light of some of the ingredients in your foods we’ve created a list of a whole host of names of different types of sugar: sugar, glucose, corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup, date syrup, castor sugar, brown sugar, sucrose, molasses, sorbitol, refiner’s syrup, glucose syrup, brown rice syrup, carob syrup, rice syrup, honey, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, malt, mannitol, dextran, ethylmaltol, galactose and raw sugar. As you can see the list is endless and we could go on but you get the idea. If previously you were looking out for sugar in the ingredients list, please be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a few more names now.

What’s the difference between refined sugar and unrefined sugar?

There’s a lot of talk nowadays around unrefined sugar although do we really understand what that means? Refined sugar is sugar which has gone through an intense processing process whereby the sugar is stripped from all nutritional value. As a result we’re left with what we call empty calories. These are calories which contain zero nutritional benefit. In comparison, unrefined sugar has not been through this process and therefore retains more of its nutrients. So, which is better? Essentially both refined and unrefined sugars generate a spike in blood sugar levels and therefore an increase in the need for insulin (a high demand over time can become problematic as discussed above). When consumed in excess both types of sugar can have an effect on weight gain and all the other risks associated with the consumption of excess sugar. Although, unrefined sugars do contain some nutritional value rather than simply providing empty calories. It’s important to note that they are classified as added sugar and therefore do contribute to the upper limits of 30g of sugar per day.

What’s classified as added sugar?

The sugar debate can become incredibly complicated when we start getting into the added sugars vs the intrinsic sugars. Essentially added sugars are sugars which are added into a food item. Natural sugars can be classed as added sugars. Honey, fruit juice, maple syrup (essentially all the sugars above) are also classified as added. There are often lots of questions around fruit juice and whether it’s counted as an added sugar. In short, it is classified as an added sugar when it is not contained within it’s original matrix within the fruit itself.

What are the risks of consuming too much sugar?

This question really requires a whole other blog post. Although to give you some context consuming too much sugar is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, increased appetite, low levels of sustained energy, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other chronic diseases. We aren’t suggesting that you’ll develop these over night from one large sugar hit but over a prolonged period of time it’s definitely something we recommend limiting.

How can we reduce our sugar consumption?

Below are our top tips for helping to reduce your sugar consumption:

  • Avoid adding sugar to your tea or coffee. One teaspoon, twice per day equates to 8g of sugar. That’s nearly a third of your total daily allowance. Start by halving the sugar in your hot drinks before removing it completely.
  • Mix up your desserts – if you’re someone who consumes dessert on a regular basis try swapping your indulgent pud for fruit with natural yoghurt a few nights of the week.
  • Avoid high sugar drinks. Sugar sweetened drinks provide you with no nutritional value and have been shown to increase appetite. Therefore, you’d be better off to squeeze the juice of half an orange into your sparkling water instead or opt for herbal fruit teas instead.
  • Avoid the ‘healthy’ snacks such as low-fat yoghurt, cereal bars and some cereals as these can be loaded with sugar. Try making your own or check out our healthier sweet snacks instead. Our snacks from Protein & Pantry are loaded with healthy fats and protein to help slow the release of the sugar into the blood stream and consequently keep you fuller for longer.
  • Opt for protein rich snacks such as boiled eggs, our Transformation Chef egg muffins, a handful of nuts or hummus and crudites to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the morning or afternoon and to help manage sugar cravings.

There you have the complete low down on sugar. Remember life is for living after all so a small amount of the white stuff now and again really isn’t the end of the world as long as you’re enjoying it!

 

Read more

As this week is Sugar Awareness Week what better time to delve into the good, the bad and the ugly of the sweet white stuff.

It’s no secret that as a population we consume way too much sugar and with the introduction of the sugar tax in April 2018 it’s clear that there are attempts to try and limit sugar consumption. At The Transformation Chef we strongly believe that knowledge is power and it’s for that reason that we want to outline the ins and outs of sugar to hopefully help you to understand why in very small amounts sugar can be sweet but in excess it can be somewhat sinister.

We’ve answered your most common sugar questions below.

What is sugar?

Sugar is defined as “a class of soluble, sweet tasting carbohydrates found in living tissues”. Sucrose and glucose are the most common types of sugar. Carbohydrates (with the exception of fibre) are broken down into glucose in the body to be used as energy. Excess sugar intake increases the need for insulin (the hormone which regulates blood sugar). Over a prolonged period of time the constant need for more insulin can lead to an increased risk of insulin resistance/ pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Where do we find sugar?

Trying to identify what sugar is in todays products can be challenging as it’s often hidden under a name which you may not be aware of as sugar. Food manufacturers are sneaking sugar into everything they can from yoghurts, to pasta sauces to cereals and even pre-made soups. To help you make light of some of the ingredients in your foods we’ve created a list of a whole host of names of different types of sugar: sugar, glucose, corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup, date syrup, castor sugar, brown sugar, sucrose, molasses, sorbitol, refiner’s syrup, glucose syrup, brown rice syrup, carob syrup, rice syrup, honey, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, malt, mannitol, dextran, ethylmaltol, galactose and raw sugar. As you can see the list is endless and we could go on but you get the idea. If previously you were looking out for sugar in the ingredients list, please be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a few more names now.

What’s the difference between refined sugar and unrefined sugar?

There’s a lot of talk nowadays around unrefined sugar although do we really understand what that means? Refined sugar is sugar which has gone through an intense processing process whereby the sugar is stripped from all nutritional value. As a result we’re left with what we call empty calories. These are calories which contain zero nutritional benefit. In comparison, unrefined sugar has not been through this process and therefore retains more of its nutrients. So, which is better? Essentially both refined and unrefined sugars generate a spike in blood sugar levels and therefore an increase in the need for insulin (a high demand over time can become problematic as discussed above). When consumed in excess both types of sugar can have an effect on weight gain and all the other risks associated with the consumption of excess sugar. Although, unrefined sugars do contain some nutritional value rather than simply providing empty calories. It’s important to note that they are classified as added sugar and therefore do contribute to the upper limits of 30g of sugar per day.

What’s classified as added sugar?

The sugar debate can become incredibly complicated when we start getting into the added sugars vs the intrinsic sugars. Essentially added sugars are sugars which are added into a food item. Natural sugars can be classed as added sugars. Honey, fruit juice, maple syrup (essentially all the sugars above) are also classified as added. There are often lots of questions around fruit juice and whether it’s counted as an added sugar. In short, it is classified as an added sugar when it is not contained within it’s original matrix within the fruit itself.

What are the risks of consuming too much sugar?

This question really requires a whole other blog post. Although to give you some context consuming too much sugar is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, increased appetite, low levels of sustained energy, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other chronic diseases. We aren’t suggesting that you’ll develop these over night from one large sugar hit but over a prolonged period of time it’s definitely something we recommend limiting.

How can we reduce our sugar consumption?

Below are our top tips for helping to reduce your sugar consumption:

  • Avoid adding sugar to your tea or coffee. One teaspoon, twice per day equates to 8g of sugar. That’s nearly a third of your total daily allowance. Start by halving the sugar in your hot drinks before removing it completely.
  • Mix up your desserts – if you’re someone who consumes dessert on a regular basis try swapping your indulgent pud for fruit with natural yoghurt a few nights of the week.
  • Avoid high sugar drinks. Sugar sweetened drinks provide you with no nutritional value and have been shown to increase appetite. Therefore, you’d be better off to squeeze the juice of half an orange into your sparkling water instead or opt for herbal fruit teas instead.
  • Avoid the ‘healthy’ snacks such as low-fat yoghurt, cereal bars and some cereals as these can be loaded with sugar. Try making your own or check out our healthier sweet snacks instead. Our snacks from Protein & Pantry are loaded with healthy fats and protein to help slow the release of the sugar into the blood stream and consequently keep you fuller for longer.
  • Opt for protein rich snacks such as boiled eggs, our Transformation Chef egg muffins, a handful of nuts or hummus and crudites to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the morning or afternoon and to help manage sugar cravings.

There you have the complete low down on sugar. Remember life is for living after all so a small amount of the white stuff now and again really isn’t the end of the world as long as you’re enjoying it!

 

Read more