Many of us have a love-hate relationship with sugar – for good reasons.
It is so yummy, but also addictive and connected to all kins of health issues.
All sugar, whether natural or processed, is a type of simple carbohydrate your body uses for energy. Fruits, vegetables and dairy foods naturally contain sugar.
“Added sugars” are the sugars and syrups added to foods during processing. Desserts, sodas, and energy and sports drinks (yes – sports drinks are mostly crap!) are the top sources of added sugars.
Why is added sugar a problem?
Eating too many foods with added sugars sets the stage for potential health problems, such as:
- Poor nutrition. If you fill up on sugar-laden foods, you may skimp on nutritious foods and miss out on important nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
- Weight gain. There’s usually no single cause for being overweight. But added sugar might contribute to the problem. Adding sugar to foods and beverages makes them more calorie dense. It’s easy to consume extra calories when eating foods that are sugar sweetened.
- Increased triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the bloodstream and fat tissue. Eating too much added sugar can increase triglyceride levels, which may increase your risk of disease.
- Inflammation. Sugar fuels chronic inflammation, which contributes to degenerative disease. One of the main focus topics in aging healthily is to keep chronic inflammation downs,
Names for sugars can be confusing – here are a few alternative ones:
- Cane juice and cane syrup
- Corn sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate and nectars
- Malt syrup
Despite what you may have heard, there’s no nutritional advantage to brown sugar, fruit juice concentrate or other types of sugar over white sugar.
To reduce the added sugars in your diet, try these tips:
- Drink water, unsweetened tea or other alorie-free drinks (and I don’t mean artificially sweetened either!!) instead of sugary sodas or sports drinks. That goes for coffee drinks too.
- When you drink fruit juice, make sure it’s 100 percent fruit juice – not juice drinks that have added sugars. Better yet, eat the fruit rather than drink the juice to get the fiber, as well.
- Choose breakfast cereals (or better: whole grain oats) with no sugar. Skip sugary and frosted cereals.
- Snack on vegetables, fruits, cheese, nuts, hummus, guacamole and yogurt instead of candy, pastries and cookies.
The final analysis
By limiting the amount of added sugars in your diet, you can cut calories without compromising nutrition. In fact, cutting back on foods with added sugars makes it easier to get the nutrients you need! And – you have plenty of added benefits like reduced inflammation, improved overall health, better nutrition.
Take this easy first step: Next time you’re tempted to reach for a soda or other sugary drink, grab a glass of ice-cold water instead and add some lemon or lime.
For advanced sugar avoiders: when you start craving sweet, drink some water, eat a snack rich in protein – and wait a bit. Better?