The drink you love: it is just liquid sugar?

5th February 2014

ONE of the quickest ways to lose weight is to cut down on alcohol because booze is often little more than liquid sugar. You might be surprised to learn exactly how much of the sweet stuff is in your favourite tipple. That old saying “What’s your poison?” has never been more true, because over-consumption of sugar is one of the major health concerns of modern-day life.

One pint of stout has up to five teaspoons of sugar, more than half the recommended daily amount for an adult and more than you’ll consume in a half a Mars bar.

Scientists have recently recommended to the World Health Organisation that men shouldn’t consume more than eight teaspoons (32g) of sugar a day or women six teaspoons (24g) a day.

Be warned: A Bacardi Breezer contains 5.5 teaspoons of sugar, a Vodka and Coke has 6.5 and a Smirnoff Ice has 7.5.

I’m lucky that my favourite drinks are dry white wine or sparkly Prosecco, which have only a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar per glass. At least they’re not liquid sugar.

 Men’s drinks are even worse for their waistlines and their health: Strong real ales can have up to nine teaspoons of sugar because sugar or honey is often added to the beverage to help produced the desired flavour.

So just one pint takes you over the recommended daily sugar intake. Years ago they use to advertise that “Guinness is good for you” but a pint contains five teaspoons of sugar (real liquid sugar!) Even lager has about three teaspoons.

Like a G&T in the evening? It’s lovely in summer with ice and lemon, isn’t it, but be careful – it has five and half teaspoons of sugar in it.

Compare that to a large glass of red wine, which only has a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar.

A bottle of Magners pear cider was found to have eight and a half teaspoons while a pint of Strongbow dry cider had three and a half teaspoons of sugar in it.

Vodka, gin and whisky have minimal traces of sugar in them unless you top the drink up with a fizzy mixer such as coke or lemonade.

Alcopops also had high sugar content with around five teaspoons per bottle. Liqueurs such as sambuca and Amaretto had around four teaspoons of sugar in a single shot.

Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra says: ‘The level of sugar in some of these drinks is quite staggering. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink but unfortunately we are consuming much more than is good for us.

“Recent scientific evidence reveals that the most significant dietary villain is sugar. But it’s not just hidden sugar that the food industry has profited from by adding to foods we don’t even associate with being junk foods.

“It’s also the amount that we can be unwittingly consuming in the form of alcohol. Although moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, there is no safe level for increasing the risk of cancer according to the World Cancer Research fund.”

Here’s a league table of liquid sugar content (figure shown is the number of teaspoons):

Pint of Guinness or stout: 5
Pint of premium lager 3.5
568ml bottle of Magners pear cider 8.5
Pint of Strongbow dry cider 3.5
175ml glass of mulled wine 11 
175ml glass of medium sweet wine 2.5
Vodka and Red Bull 7 
Gin and tonic 5.5 
Vodka and Coca Cola 6.5 
Sambuca shot 4 
Amaretto shot 4 
50ml glass of Baileys 2.5 
50ml glass of Port 3 
50ml glass of sweet sherry 2 
Smirnoff Ice 7.5
Barcardi Breezer 5.25


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