Posted on Sep 10, 2020, 4 p.m.
Sugar has earned a bad reputation, while sometimes this is for good reason other times it is not. Sugar can be found in almost everything we eat ranging from fruit to desserts, bread and soda, to candy and processed foods. Sugar has been linked to all sorts of ailments and health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
It is almost impossible to avoid sugar, and nutritionists may actually caution against eliminating sugar from your diet completely as it is the major fuel source for cells and it has been found to help boost brain health. But it is worth noting that sugar comes in many forms, and this sugar is most likely not the sugar that comes to mind when you think sugar.
There are four types of sugar, and the risks/benefits for a person depends on the type of sugar one consumes: glucose, fructose, sucrose, and HFCS. Moderation is the key to most things, and this also applies to sugar. Some may experience health issues from not eating enough and others may experience an increase in the risk of developing certain health conditions for consuming too much. When it comes to sugar it is important to remember that some are better than others, the one that has become the public health concern is the added sugar that can be found in sodas and processed foods.
Foods such as beets, grapes, carrots, and grains contain natural sugars: fructose which is fruit sugar, lactose which is milk sugar, sucrose which is a combination of fructose and glucose, and HFCS which is made from corn starch. Most people will intake these sugars all the time naturally from their diet. Sugar molecules from these are typically helpful, these are absorbed into the bloodstream and are transformed into blood sugar to act as a fuel source for cells to use to keep bodily functions running. The problem with sugar typically occurs when people eat foods/beverages that contain added sugars, these sugars have various names such as cane sugar, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate malt sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
While sugars typically are not harmful in small amounts, the body doesn’t really need added sugars on top of the ones that we get from food naturally, the added sugars will contribute to additional calories and they add zero nutrients to food, according to the American Heart Association.
Americans have been consuming more and more added sugars for the past three decades, this nutrition trend has led to a greater prevalence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease which is the leading cause of death across the nation. The best approach to minimize the risk for this serious condition and the related complications is to limit eating added sugar-rich foods.
The problem with limiting sugar added rich foods is the labels/packaging that can be deceiving, some people actually think they are making good healthy choices when they are not. Some of the most common foods that are loaded with added sugars are granola, protein bars, refined breakfast cereals, pasta sauce, canned soup, nut/seed butter, salad dressing, instant oatmeal, sports/energy drinks, soda/pop, and processed fruits juices.
Keeping sugar intake in check may seem daunting, but it is easier than it seems, and it will become a habit if sustained long haul. All you need to do is to check the ingredient list on the product label to look for the added sugar(s) content, and make as much food at home as you can from fresh products, organic is possible. Sugar alone is not a big bad monster, but too much of a good thing can be bad, meaning it is crucial to consume it in moderation.
Keep an eye out for: agave syrup, brown sugar, cane juice and cane syrup, confectioners’ sugar, corn sweetener and corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, granulated white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose and syrup as these are all types of sugar. One gram of sugar equals 4 calories, and 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon of sugar.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.