Before you head to the office via the coffee shop for that morning brew, spare a second to think about the dangerous levels of sugar and calories you will be consuming.
Yes, we know it’s quite a depressing thought when all you want is that caffeine high, but a new report by Action On Sugar, a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health, has revealed that 98 per cent of hot drinks served at high street chains are harmful to your health.
In fact, the report went as far as to say that if forced to label their drinks the coffee houses would have to mark many of their hot beverages with a “red” warning sign to highlight the excessive levels of sugar.
Apparently a third of the drinks tested by Action on Sugar contain more sugar than Coca Cola, which has nine teaspoons per can. The trendy chai latte has a whopping 25 teaspoons per drink!
Professor Graham MacGregor from Action on Sugar said: “There’s an incredible amount of sugar stuffed in things and so people don’t realise they are consuming an incredible amount of sugar and calories, so this means everyone is getting obese and type two diabetes.. they need to do something to stop the food industry slowly poisoning us.”
Dubai-based nutritionist Caroline Grundy from you-ition.com says the recommended daily allowance is a maximum of 10 to 15 teaspoons.
“This includes table sugar, all syrups and honey and the sugar found in fruit juices,” says Caroline. “Table sugar, syrups and honey are highly palatable and can therefore be disguised in food items in larger volumes meaning high calorie intake.”
While weight gain is one of the side effects of consuming too much sugar, Caroline reveals the damages can be much worse.
“The reason sugars are not recommended to contribute a large portion of your food intake is because they are very easily digested, cause spikes in blood sugar and often carry excessive calories,” reveals Caroline. “Spikes in blood sugars cause many unfavorable effects in the body, and if the sugar is not utilised the body stores them as fat.”
“Continued spikes in blood sugar can exacerbate the pancreas and the insulin response needed for when sugars enter the blood stream,” she adds. “Insulin is a hormone that is released when sugars enter the blood stream. It instructs cells to uptake the sugar to use as energy. Over time if someone continues to spike their blood sugar on a daily occurrence the pancreas struggles with keep up. If this continues you are massively at risk of developing complications such as diabetes.”
The most unhealthy drinks recorded in Action on Sugar’s report were drinks aimed at non-coffee drinks, with chai lattes, and Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit having the highest levels of sugar.
In the UAE where consumption of sugar is high, Caroline says getting people to avoid sweet treats can be difficult.
“If you know you have a sweet tooth try to be mindful about how much added sugar you have over the day, such as sugar in hot drinks, soft drinks and confectionary products such as chocolate,” she advises. “I’m an advocator of palate training. Mindfully train yourself to a more savoury palate, you don’t always need that sweet treat.”
As for drinks, Caroline advises sticking to herbal teas and black coffee with no added sugar, syrups, cream or any other extras.
Make ours a tall Americano then, thanks!
Caroline’s Health Top Tips OIn Sugar Consumption
Looking at the nutrient label of a food product, go to the ‘per 100g’ look down to ‘carbohydrates of which sugars’ and any value higher than 17.5g of sugar means this product is high in sugar.
Divide any sugar amount in grams by 4.2 to see it as teaspoons. This is a good way of visualising how much sugar is in your food. For example, a portion of breakfast cereal has 23g of sugar in it, 23 ÷ 4.2 = 5.4 teaspoons.
Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices (even if fresh), and sweetened beverages with syrups, and try not to add sugar to any of your drinks.
Save sweet treats such as cakes, pastries and chocolates for occasions such as celebrations. Space your sweet treats on a weekly, or even better monthly basis, rather than a daily basis.
For the full list of drinks at chain coffee shops click on this link