Ask most health professionals, nutritionists and dietitians and they will tell you that ‘added sugar’ is the single worst component of the modern diet. It can lead to weight gain, even obesity, Type II diabetes, heart disease and more. And worse still it has absolutely no nutritional value to offset those excess calories. And yet as added sugar hides in all kinds of foods and beverages, and, let’s face it, most of us are very fond of at least the occasional sweet treat. So are you eating too much sugar? Is there any way that we can eat a ‘little bit’ of sugar as a part of a healthy diet or should we all just cut the sugar out of our lives completely?
Natural Sugar Versus Added Sugar
There is of course such a thing as naturally occurring sugar. It’s what makes strawberries so wonderfully delicious, apples so refreshingly delightful. And natural sugars are OK. It is the added sugar in your daily diet that is the big problem. And unfortunately there is an awful lot of it, often hiding in places that you actually would never expect to find it, especially in the processed foods that are probably stacked up in your refrigerator, freezer and kitchen cupboards right now.
Tracking Down the Bad Sugars
Figuring out that there is lots of added sugar that you don’t need in cakes and biscuits is easy. What is not so easy to determine, until you begin to do a little investigation, is where it is hiding in processed foods. Reading ingredient labels helps, but they rarely list ‘added sugar’.
Instead it is disguised as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice, fructose, glucose, dextrose, syrup, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup and even more. It does not matter what it is called though, it’s all added sugar and its only purpose is to add flavor, not any nutrient your body actually needs.
Ideally cutting all processed food out of your diet and only eating fresh, organic products is the way to the healthiest diet of all and the easiest way to avoid eating too much sugar. Sadly however for many people that is simply financially unrealistic. Therefore, when you are in the supermarket get into the habit of reading those ingredient labels and if one of the sugars mentioned above it any higher than fourth on the list, put it back and choose something else.
But Isn’t a Little Bit of Sugar OK?
Life without sugar doesn’t sound like much fun though does it? According to the current general medical opinion, up to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons of added sugar daily for men and 25 grams or 6 teaspoons are ‘OK’ for most adults. However, you also need to realize that for many, sugar is just as addictive as alcohol or tobacco and sticking to those very low limits can be very hard. In other words, some people can handle a little bit of sugar, others cannot. Just remember, when it comes to added sugar less is better, and even less is great. You simply have to work out, and work on, what is right for you in order to be as healthy as possible.