Sugar Versus SUGAR: is all sugar bad?
You’ve probably heard over and over again about how we should be eating less sugar, but what is meant by that is refined and added sugar.
- Added/Refined sugar includes white sugar added to coffee or cakes, brown sugar used in some cookie recipes and the honey you drizzle on your yogurt and even fruit juices that lack the fiber found in whole fruits.
- Naturally occurring sugar on the other hand, comes with a package of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that offset the negative aspects of the sugar content.
For example, fruits have fiber that causes our body to absorb sugar slower. You also don’t have to worry about the sugars found in milk or unsweetened yogurt.
Take home message: While you have to always manage quantities of food, don’t worry too much about the sugar found naturally in wholefoods, but keep an eye on sources of added/refined sugar like desserts, packaged foods (cereals, tomato sauces), juices and condiments.
Why is sugar bad for you?
- Weight gain: most sugar containing foods also have a lot of calories too! Sugary foods increase your hunger and do not satisfy your appetite because they have no nutritious value. Therefore, you end up eating more during the day leading to weight gain.
- Sugar Dependence: Eating anything sweet especially if it’s consistent causes your blood sugar to spike and drop leaving you tired. This leaves you looking for more sugary foods to stabilize the blood sugar and therefore eating more and always asking for a “sugar fix”.
- Acne: Food high in refined sugars have been shown to increase acne by causing the spike in the hormones insulin and androgen which both play a role in oil production and inflammation.
- High risk of chronic diseases: diets high in sugar have been tightly linked to heart disease, diabetes type 2 and cancer. This is partially due to the excessive production of insulin which leads to insulin resistance and increased inflammation.
- Increased risk of depression: consuming a lot of processed foods which usually include plenty of added sugars leads to blood sugar swings, hormonal dysregulation and inflammation which have a huge impact on mental health
- Energy Draining: the ups and downs that sugar consumption leads to especially those not paired with protein or fiber leads to fluctuations in energy levels which may become persistent.
Foods explained: how much sugar can I have per day?
Sugar comes in different shapes depending on the sources. As mentioned above, fruit and milk sources are the best way to get sugar as they have less effect on your health.
There is no dietary need for added sugar in your diet and so the less you eat the healthier you will be.
To be on the safe side, limit your sugar intake to 150 calories for men per day (37.5 g or 9 teaspoons) and 100 calories for women per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
- 1 can of coke has 35 grams of sugar
- One medium banana has 14 grams mixed with heathy fibers
- One medium sized snickers bar contains about 28 grams of sugar
- One cup of low fat Greek yogurt has 9 grams of sugar
Tips to Reduce your Sugar intake:
- Focus on getting sugar from whole unprocessed sources such as fruits and milk.
- Swap sweetened sodas and juices for unsweetened teas, water and seltzer water with lemon.
- Use stevia instead of sugar in your coffee if you cannot take it black. Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from plants and lacks the bad effects that sugar has on your body.
- Buy unsweetened yogurt and sweeten with berries or bananas
- Look at the labels and pick condiments, marinades, dressings, sauces and nut butters with no sugar added or even make them at home
- Choose bars and cereals with less than 4 gram of sugar per serving and high in fiber.
- Replace the morning cereal with rolled oats, with berries and all natural nut butters
- Consume whole fruits instead of fruit juices or fruit smoothies as they lose their benefits by breaking down the fiber.