You might hear the word “sugar” and shrug, thinking something along the lines of, “Yeah, we all know it’s not good for you.” That’s partially true, but there are two kinds of sugars we can talk about. The first is sugar that occurs naturally in all foods with carbohydrates – this includes fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. The second is what we call “added sugar”.
It is okay to eat whole foods that contain natural sugar! Many of these foods are also high in fiber, minerals, antioxidants, protein, or calcium. Your body actually digests these foods slower than processed foods and the sugar releases a steady supply of energy. Not to mention there are many benefits to eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Added sugar is exactly what it sounds like – sugar that is added to foods to improve flavor or extend shelf life. It’s pretty hard to find products that it’s NOT in. The top sources are soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. However, you can also find added sugar in other things like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.
What is the Impact of Added Sugar?
There appear to be several indirect connections between high sugar intake and heart disease including:
- High amounts of sugar can overload the liver, leading to fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.
- It can also raise your blood sugar and increase inflammation.
- Sugary beverages, especially, contribute to weight gain. Liquid calories do not satisfy your body like calories from food. This means you end up consuming far more calories than necessary.
These results of high amounts of added sugar mentioned above are linked to heart attack and stroke.
How to Make Smart Choices for Your Diet
It is suggested women consume no more than 24 grams of sugar a day and men consume no more than 36 grams of sugar a day. Try to pay attention to labels and look for grams of sugar, as well as the serving size. It’s easy to eat double or triple the serving size of certain foods and drinks, so it’s something you definitely want to be aware of.
Added sugar also goes by many names when it comes to looking at food labels. Look out for the following to either avoid or cut back on: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, molecules ending in “ose” (fructose, dextrose, etc.).
And Don’t Panic!
While you definitely want to be aware of the amount of added sugar you are taking in and try to keep it within a moderate limit, you should also give yourself some grace. There are probably going to be days that you indulge in a little more sugar than you should – special occasions, holidays, weekends. Just do your best to make healthy choices when you can and try to be a little more conscientious after the days that you do indulge.
If you have a sweet tooth and you’d like some help learning how to manage your sugar intake, reach out to Angela today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi I'm Angela
I am a Certified Health Coach and the founder of Bee Healthy Coaching. As a mom of 4 and step mom of 3, it is my mission to provide you with the tools, resources, and encouragement needed to overcome obstacles, find balance, and thrive.