When reading food labels, ingredients such as honey, coconut sugar, date sugar, Rapadura, caster sugar, golden sugar, palm sugar, and Turbinado sugar are eight ingredients that sure sound “healthier” than plain old sugar. But these sugars are made up of similar chemical structures. That means the body uses them in similar ways.
While sugar occurs naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy, those aren’t the sources to be alarmed about. It’s the added sugars in manufactured foods that are a major concern in our country. While the list extends to hundreds, here are some common foods that have significant amount of added sugars:
Breakfast cereals, Granola, Instant Oatmeal, Ketchup, Peanut Butter, Coffee Drinks, Canned Fruit, Canned Soup, Frozen meals, BBQ sauce, Salad Dressings, Canned baked beans, Spaghetti Sauce, Flavored Yogurts, Chocolate milk, Baked Goods
So, what happens to your body on sugar?
There are problems with sugar due to adverse metabolic effects, studies show that too much of it, not only increases energy (caloric) intake causing weight gain, but it also wreaks havoc on our liver, impairs brain function, and may leave us susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Sugar has also been proven to be highly addictive, and for that reason, it can cause people to lose control over the consumption of sugary junk foods. Pay attention if you have a history of binge eating, “cheating a lot” on structured meal plans, sugar cravings, rapid weight gain or chronic disease.
How much sugar should we be consuming?
The American Heart Association advises men to get no more than 150 calories from added sugar per day and women no more than 100 calories/day (and that translates to approximately 6 to 9 teaspoons per day). If you are healthy, lean and active, these seem like reasonable amounts. You’ll probably burn off these small amounts of sugar without them causing you any harm. However, if you are struggling with your weight or have a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease, you should probably avoid added sugars as much as possible.
There is no biological need for added sugars in the diet. The less you consume them, the healthier you will be. To minimize your intake added sugars, avoid the following foods: Soft drinks, fruit juices, candies and sweets, baked goods, canned fruits, low fat and fat free salad dressings. Every individual is unique, and you need to figure out what works for you.