Our foods are loaded with sugar so its no surprise we're eating way too much of it. If you cant stop craving the sweet stuff, you may have a sugar addiction. This can have serious implications for your health and your waistline. Read on to get the hard facts about sugar.
SUGARS RISKS ARE ANYTHING BUT SWEET
Excess sugar cause weight gain and tooth decay but whats more is that it also increases your risk for T2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and especially fatty liver. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added a sugar a day for women and 9 a day for men, but most Americans consume 22 teaspoons daily. Rule of thumb: take the number of grams of sugar per serving in your food and divide by 4—thats how many teaspoons youre getting.
SUGAR COMES WITH UNHEALTHY FRIENDS
High-sugar foods often bring bad friends with it, including refined flour, which lacks fiber and other nutrients. Foods with a lot of added sugar also usually contain unhealthy saturated and perhaps even trans fats, which are bad for the heart and possible high in calories.
FRUIT ISNT ALWAYS A GO
Although fruit is good for us, it contains naturally-occurring fructose and glucose. Many of our fruits are now much larger in size than they used to be so a serving now may only be half a piece of fruit.
HONEY ISNT A PERFECT NATURAL SUGAR
Although it has health benefits beyond those of ordinary sugar, including the ability to boost immunity, aid digestion, and reduce inflammation, it still has a relatively high glycemic index value, which is a standardized indicator of a foods carbohydrates, 52 versus sugar's 65. Raw and unfiltered honeys contain high amounts of antioxidants and most people can eat without a problem, however its still recommended that diabetics avoid it.
SUGAR SUBSTITUTES ARE SWEETER THAN SUGAR
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes and sweeter than sugar. In the Unites States, there are 6 that are FDA-approved: acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, saccharine, stevia, and sucralose. Interestingly, sugar substitutes wont necessarily lead to weight-loss. For example, aspartame-sweetened diet soda has consistently been linked to obesity and risk for metabolic syndrome.
THE NEWEST SUGAR SUBSTITUTE MIGHT BE THE BEST
Stevia, made from the leaves of the stevia plant, has garnered quite a following from the diet community because its thought to be an all-natural alternative to chemical sweeteners, and can be used safely in moderate or small amounts.
APPLESAUCE MIGHT BE THE BETTER SUBSTITUTE
Try all-natural applesauce in place of sugar to add sweetness without the high glucose level or artificial sweeteners. Similarly, you can use an equal amunt of applesauce in place of oil in recipes to cut down on calories and fat.
HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP GETS A BAD RAP
Its taken a lot of heat as a serious health risk thanks to its presence in many processed foods, but some experts think its no worse than table sugar. They both contain similar caloric content and mixtures of glucose and fructose and are metabolized similarly in the body, therefore some scientists and respected authorative bodies agree they are nutritionally equivalent. Still, this is a hotly debated topic and other researchers remain unconvinced.
SUGAR IN YOUR BLOODSTREAM PUTS YOUR HEALTH IN DANGER
Glucose, the name given to sugar when its in your bloodstream, is essential to your body and its cells. The health problems occur when you get too much. Anytime your blood sugar spikes above 120 mg/dL, your pancreas over-releases insulin and this causes your body to shift into fat-storing mode. The more blood sugar spikes you have, the more fat you store and this can lead to an onslaught of health challenges, including obesity, heart disease, and T2 diabetes.
Next Discussion: type 1 diabetes and attention deficit disorder »