Which sugars are good for me and which are bad for me?

Posted 07 August 2014

No sugars are better or worse for you; the different sugars are broken down and used in different ways but, most importantly, the body doesn’t distinguish between sugars used in manufacturing or in the kitchen, and those sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables. For example, sucrose in an apple is broken down in exactly the same way as the sucrose in your sugar bowl. However, the rate of which the sugar (sucrose) is absorbed can vary depending on if the source is a solid or liquid food, for example, in an apple or apple juice.

The key is consuming and maintaining a healthy balanced diet. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars* to less than 10% of their total energy intake. It further suggested that a further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits (1).

*Free sugars are all sugars added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

In China in 2016, the Chinese Nutrition Society developed a set of dietary guidelines (2) which provide information to help people achieve a balanced diet including advice around oil, salt, sugar and alcohol in the diet. In particular, the guidelines set out six recommendations to achieve a balanced diet which include the fact that daily intake added sugars for an adult should be less than 50 grams. Adults should also reduce consumption of sugary drinks.