Sugar free does NOT equal healthy

6th May, 2014


Brownie cherryAt a get together with friends on Friday evening, one friend arrived with a coconut chocolate slice she had made. She proudly announced the slice was sugar free.

“So it’s not sweet”, I said. “No it’s still sweet, I used rice syrup instead of sugar”, she said. Bemused, I said “but rice syrup is sugar”. Her response, “oh you know what I mean, it’s fructose free”.

While many will argue otherwise, a small amount of fructose in your diet is NOT harmful. All fruit and some vegetables contain fructose and they are certainly not harmful to our health, they are of course, very nutritious and necessary for optimal health.

What bothers me is this notion that eating “sugar free” (fructose free) equates to being healthy. Most people would benefit much more from eating more vegetables than worrying about avoiding sugar. 

So why has the “sugar free” message received so much publicity and have such a huge following? 

A: Marketing.

“I quit sugar for life” with the statement that “sugar is the new tobacco, the health scourge of our times” is much more likely to sell books than say, “I doubled my vegetable intake” with the tag line “now I am the healthiest I’ve ever been”.

In addition, you can “quit sugar” but still eat lots of sugary foods as per the I quit sugar cookbook that “features more than 108 desserts, cakes…” What the? I wonder if the majority of people eating their “sugar free” cakes and biscuits are eating enough vegetables? Probably not given less than 10% of Australians do (refer to survey data below). 

My message is simple. Eat plenty of healthy whole foods, especially vegetables and you can enjoy a little sugary (or fatty) indulgence and still be very healthy! 

Australian Health Survey: Updated Results, 2011-12[email protected]/Lookup/C549D4433F6B74D7CA257B8200179569?opendocument

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