In this article, Physio Logic Contributing Registered Dietitian, Rachel Naar, RD, discusses the differences between natural sugars and added sugars, how they each break down in the body and the importance of limiting intake of foods with added sugars.
Sugar, sugar how you get so fly?
And by fly I mean, sneakily sprinkled into just about every packaged food product that smacks a health halo on the front package hiding under the guise of health.
You know the type. The granola bar that boasts ingredients you can see and pronounce, and 9g of protein, (but meanwhile adds in cane sugar, honey, natural flavor, chocolate, brown rice syrup).
So let’s take a venture into candy land and discuss the differences between natural and added sugar, the problems that can surface from too much added sugar, and how to still enjoy the sweetness in life without inducing a sugar rush.
What’s the Difference between Natural and Added Sugar?
Natural sugars are found in your fruit as fructose or dairy products, such as milk and cheese, as lactose. These foods are also high in phytochemicals, antioxidants and other beneficial properties, and contribute to your all over nutrient dense diet. For example, milk also has protein and fruit has fiber, both of which keep you feeling full longer.
Natural Sugar Sources: fruit and vegetables, milk, cheese
Added sugars are put in your coffee, hiding in your tomato sauce, and sweeten your baked goods. Most of the processed foods we eat add calories and sugar with little nutritional value.
Added Sugar: beverages (soda, fruit punch, energy drinks), cereal, candy and chocolates, cakes, pastries, cookies coffee creamers, crackers, flavored yogurt, tomato sauce, and salad dressings
What’s the problem with added sugars?
- Sugar reduces brain function, causes headaches, and contributes to inflammation
- May lead to overeating and obesity
- Can contribute to heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes
How do we cut down on added sugars?
- Trade a cookie for fruit as dessert
- Drink water with a squeeze of fruit instead of soda
- If you must have a soda, have a smaller size
- Taste your coffee before adding extra sugar; gradually reduce the amount each week
- Enjoy a homemade smoothie with frozen fruit, milk and yogurt in place of ice cream
- Read the labels on pre-packaged foods and go for the lower in sugar options
Sugar may go by other names. Don’t be fooled as you scrutinize labels.
Sneaky Added Sugar Names to look out for:
- Brown sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
Low-fat foods are the worst offenders, as manufacturers use sugar to add flavor.
As you can see, you can limit your intake of added sugars and still enjoy a delicious variety-filled diet! I’m not one for restrictions though, sometimes you have to enjoy the brownie for what it is!
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