Sugar, Sugar Everywhere


It’s a good idea to cut back on sugar. Here’s why.

By FamilyTime

 

Too much sugar can make you fat. If you eat sugary foods, you will develop type 2 diabetes or cancer. Sugar is toxic and should be banned from our diets.

Are these claims true? Is sugar really a villain? Something to be feared or at least avoided?

As with so much in life, the answers are yes. And no.

What is Sugar?

Once it enters our bodies, sugar is converted to glucose. Before that, it has any number of names: honey, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, agave nectar, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.

Anything ending in the letters “ose” is sugar. Sucrose is sugar, fructose is sugar. When either is consumed, our bodies metabolizes it as glucose in similar ways.

Is Sugar Bad?

There is no denying that too much sugar is not healthful.

It raises insulin levels in the body (insulin is a naturally occurring hormone) and will promote fat storage. Too much sugar can result in rapid weight gain.

Sugar has been known to contribute to problems associated with heart disease, gallstones, arthritis, hypertension, asthma, and anxiety and nervous disorders. While it does not cause diabetes, it is a substance type 2 diabetics must limit.

Sugar has no nutritive value—no minerals, vitamins, or fiber. Too much glucose in the body can fuel certain cancers and exacerbate some degenerative diseases.

And yet, we happily (and sometimes unknowingly) gobble it up every day. Some studies show that the average American consumes two or three pounds of sugar a week. Just a hundred years ago, Americans were lucky to eat five pounds a year!

What is Good About It?

The best thing about sugar is that it tastes good! No one can deny it. A little bit added to other foods makes them more than palatable. It often makes them downright irresistible!

The problem is, we Americans have gotten used to a lot of sweetness in much of our food, from ketchup to pickles, cream substitutes, and spaghetti sauce. And we like candy and dessert, too.

What’s worse, fast food companies and many makers of prepared foods have reduced the fat contents in their products, only to replace them with sugar. 

Still, a child who prefers chocolate milk to plain milk and drinks it daily is getting more nutrients than a child who shuns plain milk and instead drinks water, soda or even fruit juice (which is considered pure sugar these days because the fiber is removed).

For a healthy adult or child there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little sugar. Life is too short to deprive yourself of ice cream and cherry pie! That said, everyone should limit their sugar intake and save the ice cream for a special occasion.

Are There Guidelines?

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories and men no more than 150 calories of sugar daily. This translates to six teaspoons or 24 grams for women; nine teaspoons or 36 grams for men.

Some experts advise no more than 10 percent of your daily calories come from sugar.

Sugar content is often listed in grams. Four grams equals one teaspoon of sugar. It’s not hard to do the math.

Consider that a 12-ounce can of regular soda, which is pure sugar water, has 130 calories. Rule out soda and you’re on your way!

Vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean proteins are low in sugar and enormously good for you. Whole fruits, powerhouses of fiber and nutrients, should be part of a healthful diet, too.

Avoid dried fruits, canned fruit packed in syrup, barbecue sauce, and even granola bars. Sure, now and then sugary foods are fine, but certainly not every day.

As Mary Poppins said, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. This may be true, but take care not to overmedicate!