Everything You Need to Know About Sugar
As one of the biggest threats to your overall health, sugar is one part of your diet that many dieticians and nutritionists say you should completely eliminate. When consumed in large quantities, sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes, just to name a few. But what else do you need to know? And how can it be safely consumed?
According to ABC News and research from recent studies, “For every additional 150 calories of added sugar downed per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes rose by 1 percent, even after controlling for obesity, physical activity and calories from other foods.” In other words, this study proves that sugar has a direct relationship with the increased risk of diabetes, regardless of how much physical activity or calories a person burns in one day. It has also been found to have a direct relationship with heart problems; A study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine found that the more a person consumes, the higher the risk of developing heart disease.
The first step to knowing how to safely consume sugar is to know what to look out for. There are two types – natural and added. Natural sugar is commonly found in whole foods, vegetables and dairy products. These foods are a great source of fiber, protein, and calcium and also contain important vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Added sugars are artificially added to your food for flavor and preservation of processed foods. This is something that you should eliminate from your diet. The American Heart Association explains, “Increases in intake over the past four decades parallel our expanding waistlines, and studies have connected added sugar, not the naturally occurring kind, to heart disease and diabetes.”
Many packaged foods contain sugar – both natural and added. To figure out what kind is added in a product, review the nutrition label. If you see any of these sweeteners – brown sugar, cane sugar or juice, corn syrup, maltose or fructose – choose something else. Also remember, by law, the order of the ingredients on the ingredient label goes by weight, so the first ingredient listed is what the product is mostly made out of. Be vigilant and cautious of what you are about to put into your body.
Daily Recommended Servings
According to the AHA, you should have no more than 100 calories or 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. However, the average person consumes up to 18 teaspoons a day (more than double the suggested amount!) Most of the products people consume that are very high in sugar are sweetened drinks and pre-packaged, processed foods. To keep track of your intake while consuming these beverages and foods, remember that 1 teaspoon equals 4 grams.
A diet with a high consumption rate of fruits and vegetables can actually make you consume more sugar than you think. Fruit smoothies and dried fruits are packed with sugar, though many people would think they are the healthier alternative. While breaking down the vegetables for the smoothies in the blender, you are actually eliminating its fiber content. It is the fiber that slows down digestion and gives your body the time to metabolize it correctly. As a result, the calories in the fruits are actually stored as fat in your body. Without water, natural sugars become very concentrated. This is the reason why you must also be careful of consuming too much dried fruit. Portion your meals and dried fruit to make sure you are not consuming too much sugar.