The Nutracheck app allows you to see at a glance how much of your sugar intake is coming from fruits, vegetables and milk, versus other sources. Check out the video below to see how you can track sugar in your diet.
Our nutritionist Emma explains the benefits of this new feature when it comes to understanding your sugar intake against the recommended guideline amount. "When it comes to sugar – not all types are equal".
While sugar is sugar in terms of how it's used by our body at a cellular level, the source of the sugar makes a huge difference to the way sugar is initially metabolised by our body, and the overall effect on our health. Sugar that is added to foods such as cakes, chocolate or sugar sweetened drinks is very easily digested and quickly absorbed into our blood stream. The result is a sharp rise in blood sugar levels, which is then met by a corresponding insulin spike to help bring sugar levels down. This is what can sometimes result in a blood sugar crash later in the day – leading to sugar cravings. Sugars in these types of foods are also instantly released when we chew our food, which can have a detrimental effect on dental health.
Conversely, sugars which are naturally found in fruits and vegetables are handled differently by our body initially. These sugars are contained within the cells of the food, meaning we often digest and absorb them more slowly. Fruits and veggies also provide water, fibre, vitamins and minerals which are important for our body to stay healthy, which is why these types of food are so vital for a healthy diet. Unlike sugary drinks which only provide 'empty' calories, meaning they offer no nutritional benefit to us.
We'd love to! However at the moment it's not possible because UK food manufacturers do not show the split between natural sugars and added sugars in the nutrition panel on packaging. This means it's impossible for us to know how much of each type of sugar is present in a food product. If it becomes a mandatory requirement for food labelling to show this, we're ready and waiting to track it!
We want to provide as much insight as possible to help you manage your diet, so we had a think about what we can do with the information we have available. We know the sugar content of the fruit and veg items you add to your diary - and we know this type is naturally occuring. So the app will now highlight the proportion of sugar in your diet that has come from isolated fruit and vegetable sources. If a food contributes to your 5-a-day intake – all of the sugars from this food will be highlighted as 'fruit/veg sugars', as shown in the video above.
Being able to see at a glance how much of your sugar intake is from fruits/vegetables versus other foods, will help you to check the healthy balance of your diet. I am frequently asked by concerned members if it's bad that they have exceeded their daily sugar guide amount. The answer is that if you are going over your sugar allowance each day but more than 50% is coming from fruits/vegetables, then you don't need to worry. If on the other hand, you can see that just a small amount of your sugar intake is from fruits/vegetables, then this may indicate that your 'added sugars' intake is a little high so you can make some changes to try and reduce this.
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.