I get it all the time. Is sugar bad for me? The simple answer is yes, but with any nutrition topic there are some gray areas. The main reason sugar is not good for your body is that it promotes inflammation. Chronic inflammation over time can cause many health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders. This article will help clarify some rules to including sugar into your healthy lifestyle.
Sugar naturally occurs in fruits in the form of fructose and naturally in milk and yogurt in the form of lactose. In general, do not worry about the sugar found in whole fruit and dairy products as these foods provide many nutrients for your body. However, be aware that products like flavored yogurts or chocolate milk, canned fruit or fruit juice can have added sugars. The added sugar is what you want to stay away from.
Added sugar comes in the form of many different ingredients such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, raw sugar, honey, and fruit juice concentrates. Generally, any ingredient ending with “ose” such as maltose or sucrose is an added sugar.
The American Heart Association recognizes the risk of added sugar and has set limits for good heart health. Their recommendations are to limit added sugar to 24g or 6tsp for women and 36g or 9 tsp for men. One twelve ounce can of cola typically contains around 44g or 11tsp of sugar - to put that into perspective.
When reading a food label look for “added sugars” instead of total sugar. This tells you how much sugar was added to the product and is not naturally occurring. Foods that contain high amounts of added sugar are things like desserts, candy, ice cream, sugary drinks like punch, pop, lemonade, and sports drinks. Other foods that contain added sugar that may be less noticeable include granola bars, flavored yogurt, cereal, and even pasta sauce. After you start reading labels for added sugar you may be surprised by what you find. Sugar is sweet – in moderation.
Guest blogger: Megan Turner, MS, RDN, LD. Megan is accepting new patients via TeleMedicine and in-office visits.