Forum: Guard against diabetes, watch out for popular foods in diet that are sugar-laden

It has been six years since Singapore declared war on diabetes, and the new Nutri-Grade labelling scheme aimed at reducing Singaporeans' sugar intake is much welcomed (New nutrition labelling scheme for sweet drinks to kick in end-2022: MOH, Dec 30).

Diet is a key component in diabetes prevention and control.

Just knowing the World Health Organisation's recommended daily intake of 25g of added sugar is insufficient. We need to also identify which popular foods are high in sugar and calories, so we do not overindulge. These include:

  • Durian. One small seed of durian contains about 56 calories and a large seed contains double that amount. Consuming three to four large durian seeds is akin to eating a bowl of rice. Overindulging in durian can increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes. Obesity makes one more likely to develop diabetes and worsens the condition.
  • Fruit juice. The juicing process strips away dietary fibres, which help slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Without the fibre, the large amount of sugar from fruit juice enters the bloodstream quickly and causes a sugar spike, similar to what happens when we drink sweetened drinks like sodas. Over time, this wears out the pancreas, which produces insulin, and can lead to weight gain and diabetes.
  • Mee siam. One bowl of mee siam can contain about 520 calories and up to 10 teaspoons (50g) of sugar.
  • Deep-fried food. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the National University of Singapore Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health found that people who ate fried food at least once a week had a greater risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and that the risk increased as the frequency of consumption increased. For instance, study participants who ate fried foods four to six times a week had a 39 per cent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and those who ate fried foods seven or more times per week had a 55 per cent increased risk, compared with those who ate fried foods less than once a week.

Let us watch what we eat to steer clear of diabetes and the host of complications that come with it.

Liu I-Chun

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.