Plain sugar is seen as unhealthy, which is why some people substitute white sugar with brown sugar, thinking that it is a better choice.
Others believe that natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are healthier than white sugar.
The Health Promotion Board debunks common myths and offers tips on how to lower your child’s sugar intake (and yours, too).
Myth: It is healthier to bake cake with brown sugar than with refined white sugar.
Fact: Not quite. Brown sugar seems like a healthier option as it contains additional minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron.
However, the difference made by these minerals is minuscule. Both types of sugar contain the same amount of calories. So, while brown sugar enhances the taste of baked products and gives them a nice, caramelised sheen, it is not a healthier option.
Eat cakes in moderation.
Myth: Adding honey to a drink is better than adding plain sugar.
Fact: Yes, to an extent. Honey is a natural source that is sold either raw or pasteurised. Its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, which are not present in table sugar, are well documented.
However, it is still sugar and has a similar calorie content as plain sugar. Honey should thus be consumed in moderation.
Reduce the sugar or honey you are adding to your hot beverages by half. Also, do not feed honey to infants below 12 months old (find out why here).
For a lower calorie and lower sugar option, go for natural maple syrup. It has about 25 per cent less (natural) sugar than honey and refined white sugar.
If you want a zero-calorie option, add sweeteners or dried stevia leaves to your drink instead.
(Also read: 6 super grains: How to get your child to eat them)
How much sugar does your child need?
As a rough guide, added sugar (during manufacturing or cooking) should not constitute more than 10 per cent of your dietary energy. This works out to 40g to 55g (eight to 11 teaspoons) of sugar intake a day.
Here’s the daily recommended sugar limit by age group.
6 to 12 months: 5 tsp (25g)
1 to 2 years: 7 tsp (35g)
3 to 6 years: 9 tsp (45g)
7 to 18 years: 11 tsp (55g)
Above 18 years: 11 tsp (55g)
Source: Health Promotion Board
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.