Sugars are simple carbohydrates. Our body requires glucose converted from carbohydrates to fuel energy and brain function. Consuming sugar in moderation can be healthy, which is the secret to consuming sweet foods and drinks. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits or dairy are part of a healthy diet but should be consumed in moderation, especially for pre-diabetics and people with diabetes. Sugar comes in various forms, such as natural sugars like white sugar, brown sugar, or honey, and caloric sweeteners manufactured chemically like high fructose corn syrup and cane sugar.
Processed Foods Are Unhealthy
Processed foods are high in added sugar because they add color, taste, thickness, and bulk to your favorite food products. Sugar is also added to prevent mold formation; as a preservative and browning capability of some foods.
Added sugar is any sugar or caloric sweeteners added to food or beverages during processing, food preparation, or at the table. The primary sources of added sugar include:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, alcoholic drinks, and cocktails
- Dairy products include ice cream, sweetened yogurt, and sweetened milk.
- Fruit drinks, such as fruit punch.
- Candy and sugars like chocolates
- Processed sandwiches
- Desserts and sweet snacks like cakes, cookies, and Pies
- Coffee and tea
- Breakfast cereals and bars
Healthy Sources for Sugar Include
Certain vegetables and root vegetables contain natural sugars like yams, sweet potatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and yams. These foods contain greater nutritional value than food products with added sugars. Fruits also contain healthy sugars. This does not mean that they should be excessively consumed. Eat 2-3 pieces of fruit per day.
Raw honey, maple syrup, and molasses have natural sugars that contain antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients. Lactose in milk contains protein that provides sustained energy supplies that make you feel full for longer than processed foods.
The following are some of the foods that have a high sugar content and should be consumed in moderation:
- Low-fat yogurt
- Barbeque sauce
- Packaged fruit juice
- Chocolate milk
- Pasta sauce
- Sports drink
- Iced tea
- Flavored coffee and tea
- Breakfast cereal
- Protein bars
- Canned fruits and beans
- Ready-made smoothies
- Flavoured green tea
- Salad dressing
Consuming the foods mentioned above in moderation is essential since they can spike up your sugar levels.
Moderating Sugar Intake
Adding a small amount of sugar to nutrient-dense foods such as wholegrain bread and cereals improves their palatability and may encourage eating more of these foods.
A moderate intake of refined sugar can be an acceptable part of a healthy diet. Experts define a moderate intake as not more than 10 percent of calories per day (that’s 200 calories per day of a 2,000-calorie diet: 12 teaspoons or 50 grams). Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar daily. For women, the number is lower: 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day.
Adding extra glucose to your diet is not necessary. Your body extracts glucose from the sugars and other carbohydrates in your food. It also produces new glucose, mainly in the liver. A healthy dietary pattern limits added sugars to less than 10 percent of calories per day.
You should limit foods and drinks with high amounts of added sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and energy drinks.
Importance of Eating Less Sugar
Excessive sugar consumption can lead to serious chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. If you are trying to limit or moderate your sugar intake is essential. Sugar intake. Excessive sugar intake can also cause oral health problems like cavities, especially when you do not practice good oral hygiene. Sugar encourages the breeding grounds for bacteria to multiply, increasing tooth decay risk.
How to Cut Back Your Sugar Intake
Learn to identify sugar on the product food labels. They can be listed as sucrose (table sugar), corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, and fruit juice concentrate. Other names are nectars, raw sugar, barley malt syrup, maple syrup, fructose sweeteners, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, beet sugar, invert sugar, coconut sugar, rice syrup, honey, agave syrup, coconut sugar, demerara, or anhydrous dextrose.
The other way to identify it on a food label is to look out for any “-ose” endings, like glucose, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose. Buying less processed foods will help stave off some of these hidden sugars, the chemical suffix for sugars. You can also under the category called “Total Carbohydrate.”
Many try to cut back on calories by switching from sugar-sweetened to diet foods and drinks containing low- or no-calorie sweeteners. These artificial sweeteners are also known as sugar substitutes. They are sweeter than table sugar; therefore, smaller amounts can create the same level of sweetness. They contain little to no calories and should be consumed with caution since they can intensify a person’s craving for sugar, making it challenging to maintain a sugar-free diet.
Foods containing natural sugars are low in sodium and calories and high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water content. Fiber is highly beneficial to the body because it is digested slowly; therefore, it doesn’t spike sugar levels like added sugar.
Tips On Cutting Down On Sugar
- Eat fresh, dried, frozen, or canned fruits. Avoid fruits canned in heavy syrup.
- Always check food labels and choose those with the least amount of added sugar
- Reduce sugar quantities in recipes
- Avoid artificial sugars like Stevia, Splenda, Equal, or Nutra sweet
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods
- Avoid simple carbohydrates like white bread, rice, or pasta
- Be wary of “sugar-free” foods
- Cut back on the amount of sugar you add to hot drinks
- Take plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurt
- Balance carb intake with lean protein
- Substitute sugar with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla
- Reduce liquid sugar intake
- Keep healthy food around you to avoid reaching out for sugary foods
You can gradually reduce the amount of sugars in your diet until your palate gets used to it. Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, complex carbs, water, and regular exercises to prevent sugar-related diseases like diabetes or obesity. For more information please contact Dr. Daniel Garcia and Dr. Margarita Martinez.