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We consume far too much sugar in our diets, especially ‘free’ sugars. Free sugars are any sugar that is added to food and drinks or found naturally in honey and syrups. The sugar found naturally in unsweetened fruit juice is also free sugar.

Free sugar isn’t sugar naturally found in fruit and milk.

Foods with added sugar tend to be high in calories but often provide very little or no nutritional value. Foods such as table sugar, jam, cakes, sweets and chocolate, biscuits, cakes and sugary drinks are the main sources of free sugar in our diets.

Eating and drinking too much sugar causes tooth decay and can lead to weight gain which increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and as a result stroke.

The government recommends that only 5% of our daily energy intake comes from free sugars. This is the equivalent of 30g for adults or 7 teaspoons or cubes – most sugary fizzy drinks contain more than this in a can. 

Tips to cut down on sugar

  • If you regularly drink sugar-sweetened drinks, swap to water or sugar-free varieties.
  • Try to avoid breakfast cereals with added sugars. Instead add some fresh or frozen berries which will naturally sweeten your breakfast and contribute to your 5-a-day.
  • Swap toast with jam and honey with toast topped with mashed banana.
  • Avoid pre-made jar sauces such as pasta sauce which can have sugar added to them.
  • Seemingly healthy snacks such as cereal bars can often have lots of added sugar in them, check the labels – anything ending in –ose or labelled as syrup or molasses is added sugar.

More about a healthy blood pressure diet

Eating less sugar is just one part of eating a healthy blood pressure diet, there are a number of others that will help to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke:

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