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Providing the scientific facts on sugar and health from Australian and New Zealand experts
Jan. 2015
In the news
Carbohydrates and Health: New draft SACN report


Peak European nutrition agency, The Scientific Advisory Council of Nutrition (SACN) has released its’ draft report on carbohydrate intake in relation to health outcomes. The scientific literature review which provides the basis of this report was undertaken by the UK Scientific Advisory Council of Nutrition.


Read more →

Low carbohydrate diets: going against the grain


Professor of Human Nutrition, Jim Mann, and colleagues’ (University of Otago) latest comments in the Lancet suggest consumption of carbohydrate from appropriate sources is recommended for long term health over carbohydrate restriction.


Read more →

Are we truly clueless?


We are not clueless. Watch David Katz discuss the importance of what we do with our fingers, feet and forks and why a focus on only one nutrient leads to a whole new way of eating badly.


Watch clip →

In this issue:

Hi there,


Welcome to the first issue of Sweet Bites for 2015.


As always, we look forward to sharing the latest scientific information about sugar.


We hope you enjoy this issue.


If you have any feedback on how the SRAS can be of more assistance to you, please email us at



The SRAS team

Pass the bread?

If you don’t have an opinion about this Western dietary staple, or any other source of dietary carbohydrates, chances are the person next to you does.

From William Banting’s 1863 Letter on Corpulence, to the Atkins diet of the 90’s and more recently the paleo trend, low carbohydrate (carb) diets are nothing new.


What is a low carb diet?

With no universal definition of a low carb diet existing, several schools of thought have emerged. These diets can be broadly broken into the three groups below, depending on how prescriptive the recommendations are:

  1. Strict ‘low carb’: consume less than 50g of carbohydrate a day, preferably less than 20g (ketogenic), with a moderate protein intake and high fat intake (80-85% of energy from fat)
  2. Lower carb: encourages a range of carbohydrate intakes. Recommendations can be up to 40% of energy coming from carbohydrate.
  3. Food based: Simply encourages greater consumption of foods higher in fat, such as untrimmed meats, full-cream dairy, butter, coconut etc. or recommends reducing refined sources or ‘unnecessary’ carbohydrates from the diet.

Accordingly, research on low carb diets is as equally varied.


What happens to our body under low carbohydrate conditions?

Carbohydrates, sugars and starch in particular, are the principle substrates for energy in the more

Sugar and triglycerides

Until recently, sugar intake has been considered to have little effect on the risk for cardiovascular disease. However, interest in this area has been increasing and last year a comprehensive meta-analysis by Te Morenga et al was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This publication has led to academics and health professionals taking a closer look at the relationship between sugar intake and cardiovascular disease.

Most commonly discussed is the finding that higher intakes of free sugars are correlated with higher blood triglycerides. Like all diet-related research, the issue is complex.


Blood lipids and CVD risk

In current medical practice, the total/HDL cholesterol ratio is generally considered the most reliable blood lipid result for predicting heart disease risk. Whether elevated blood triglyceride level increases heart disease risk is less certain and widely debated.

To provide clarity on the issue, The American Heart Association released a ‘Scientific Statement on Triglycerides and Cardiovascular Disease’ which states that high levels of triglycerides are associated with higher heart disease risk, but it is unclear whether high triglycerides actually cause heart disease. This is because there is an inverse relationship between HDL cholesterol and triglycerides - when HDL goes down, triglycerides go up. Hence, more

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The Sugar Research Advisory Service (SRAS) is a scientific information service which aims to encourage an evidence-based view of the role of sugars in nutrition and health. The work of SRAS is guided by Australian and New Zealand independent experts. Find out more about the SRAS Advisors here.

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