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Q:SUGAR Why are sugary foods considered to be empty calories?

Sugary foods, such as soft drinks, biscuits, cakes and sweets are usually considered to be empty calories, as we often choose them over food rich in nutrients such as protein, fibre and other micronutrients. Sugary foods usually do not contain any other nutritional benefit apart from the energy that comes from the sugar. There is nothing wrong with having the occasional sugary treat, but it’s best to focus the rest of your diet on nutrient-rich foods, such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread, cereals, rice and pasta, lean meats, fish, pulses and dairy foods.

Q:SUGAR Why are fruit juice sugars considered to be free sugars, when sugars from a whole piece of fruit aren’t?

Eating fruit whole does not count towards our free sugar intake, as the sugars that are found within the fruit cell structure haven’t been found to have any adverse effect on our health. Plus, whole fruit also has the benefit of providing our bodies with fibre, which, as a nation, we are not currently eating enough of. Eating fruit in its natural form will help you towards achieving the recommended intake of 30g of fibre a day.

Drinking a glass (150ml) of unsweetened fruit juice is still a great way to help clock up one of your 5-a-day, but it’s best to limit yourself to one glass per day and to drink it at meal times, as the sugars and acid in the juice are harmful to your teeth. Even better, dilute it with the same amount of water to make it go further.

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