How to eat carbohydrates the healthier way with our definitive 4-page guide to nutritious choices, plus a low-sugar meal plan
In the UK, health guidelines for carbohydrates were updated in 2015. This is what the changes mean for you…
DON’T CUT OUT CARBOHYDRATES
50% of your daily calories should come from carbs. But that doesn’t just mean refined carbs. There are three main types of carbohydrates in food: starches, sugars and fibre. The focus of the new guidelines is on switching to wholegrains, increasing fibre and reducing free sugars.
EAT MORE FIBRE
On average, in the UK we consume only around 18g fibre a day whereas the recommended daily intake is 30g a day. As well as being good for our digestive health, eating more fibre can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, colorectal (bowel) cancer and type 2 diabetes.
HOW TO GET ENOUGH
Choose high-fibre breakfast cereals, wholegrain pasta, rice and bread, add lots of beans and veg to recipes, and snack on fruit and unsalted nuts. Read the nutrition info on food labels and, where available, choose those with the most fibre (a food is high in fibre if it contains more than 6g per 100g). To reach your daily 30g target, try these suggestions on the right.
EAT FEWER FREE SUGARS
No more than 7tsp (30g) a day (and children even less depending on age). Find more info and sugar swaps on the back of the card.
Here are 10 easy ways to add fibre to your diet…
HOW TO REDUCE FREE SUGARS
Free sugars are the sugars added to foods and drinks by manufacturers, cooks or consumers, and also the sugars found naturally in honey, syrups (including maple, coconut, agave and date) and fruit juice. The new guidelines say adults should have no more than 7tsp (30g) a day, (and children less, depending on their age) – but on average, adults have around 15tsp (59g) a day.
As well as being better for our dental health, cutting down on free sugars can reduce calories and therefore help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
HOW TO CUT DOWN
It’s important to eat fewer cakes, biscuits, sweets and sugars- sweetened drinks, but also watch the free sugars in less obvious products, such as some ready meals, sauces, and snacks labelled as ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ (such as energy bars). Check the ingredients lists and traffic lights on labels, and try our healthier swaps, below.
NOT ALL SUGAR IS BAD
It is free sugars in particular that most people need to eat less of. Sugars found in fruit and veg (fresh, frozen or dried) and in milk, plain yogurt and cheese are NOT classed as free sugars.
*Weight-loss results will vary and are down to your individual circumstances and the amount of weight you have to lose.