"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Is sugar unhealthy?

Sugar has a sophisticated relationship with health. On the one hand, many healthy foods contain natural sugars. But the most important concern is the abundance of refined sugar often added to processed foods.

A Tale of Two Sugars

A healthier technique to take into consideration sugar is to think about its source. Natural sugars are present in whole fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains. Fruits and a few vegetables contain types of sugar called fructose, glucose, and sucrose, while milk incorporates lactose and grains contain maltose.

Consuming this kind of whole food is sensible — current guidelines recommend that you simply eat about two cups of fruit and two to 3 cups of vegetables, and 6 ounces of whole grains, akin to brown rice, oats and quinoa, per day.

“Whole fruits, vegetables, and grains also contain fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and various vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health,” says Dr. Sachs. “People need to eat more of them, not less, so don't avoid them to curb sugar intake.”

In contrast, refined sugar is that which is added to food products to enhance the taste (hence why it's also called “added” sugar). Refined sugar comes from cane, sugar beets and corn, that are processed to separate the sugar. Added refined sugars include sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and high fructose corn syrup.

Top food sources of added sugar include soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, flavored yogurt, cereals, cookies and cakes. But refined sugar can also be present in most processed foods, including products you may not associate with sweetness, akin to soups, bread, cured meats and ketchup.

Various health problems

When you eat foods that naturally contain sugar, your body digests the sugar more slowly because whole fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains also contain many other nutrients — especially fiber. And protein – which slows down the digestion process. Foods high in refined sugar often don't contain as many beneficial nutrients, so the body digests the sugar quickly.

“This is why you often don't feel full after eating foods high in sugar, no matter how many calories you consume, and why people tend to eat more processed foods,” says Dr. Sachs. are

A eating regimen high in refined sugar is related to quite a few health problems. For example, several studies have linked added sugar consumption to a better risk of obesity, diabetes and unhealthy blood triglyceride levels.

Another study, published online March 21, 2022. Cell metabolismfound that long-term high refined sugar consumption was related to an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases, akin to Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or some forms of thyroid disease.

How much is enough?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that each one Americans limit their every day intake of refined sugars to lower than 10% of total calories. The American Heart Association is more specific and recommends that men eat not more than 150 calories (the quantity present in 9 tablespoons of table sugar) from refined sugar per day.

Unfortunately, the common every day intake of refined sugar is about 17 teaspoons, which provides 270 calories. Keeping track of numbers like this just isn't easy. Dr. Sachs says a more straightforward technique to curb refined sugar intake is to scale back (or cut out) the next food sources:

  • Regular soda
  • Juice drinks, akin to fruit punch and juice “cocktails”
  • Energy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • sweet tea
  • Sugary coffee drinks
  • sweet water.

Another strategy is to avoid reading food labels. “Checking products for refined sugar types and amounts per serving can help you make healthier grocery choices,” says Dr. Sachs. (See “Watch Food Labels Closely.”)

Also, watch the sugar you add to foods or drinks. One study found that two-thirds of coffee drinkers and one-third of tea drinkers add sugar or sweeteners to their drinks, accounting for greater than 60 percent of the drinks' calories. Try to eat half your usual amount of sugar or sweeteners. (It doesn't take long on your taste buds to regulate to the change.)

But don't get too enthusiastic about lowering your sugar, says Dr. Sachs. “There's nothing wrong with enjoying a chocolate chip cookie or a scoop of ice cream,” he says. “But eat them in moderation — a cookie or two instead of a dozen or a scoop of ice cream in a small bowl.”

Look closely at food labels

Added sugars are identified on the product's ingredients label. They are sometimes called by names apart from “sugar”. Here are those you have to be on the lookout for, in keeping with the feds. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015–2020:

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown sugar
  • Stick crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Sweet corn
  • Corn syrup
  • Crystal fructose
  • Dextrose
  • sugarcane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • honey
  • Invert the sugar.
  • Lactose
  • Malt sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Jaggery
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose

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