Let’s talk about sugar.
Sugar is… sweet, delicious, yummy, the equivalent of happiness… and the list goes on. However, most people know that even though sugar is oh-so-sweet, it’s not so sweet for our health. High amounts of added sugars can lead to an increased risk of obesity, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure to name a few.
If that is not enough to “scare” you away from the happiness that sugar brings… what if I told you that sugar has the same effect on the brain as cocaine. Crazy right? It actually triggers the same reward centers in the brain and it can be addicting!
The other crazy thing is that sugar is hiding in most of the packaged foods we eat and some of us do not even realize it. Some individuals may be starting their day off with a sugar rush, then having the equivalent of a bowl of ice cream for lunch, and a few Krispy Kreme doughnuts for dinner without even knowing it. Yikes!
How to beat the Sweet Talk
The best thing to do is to be an informed consumer and know when you are eating/drinking added sugar even when sugar isn’t directly stated as an ingredient. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of our daily calorie needs. This is about < 12 teaspoons (48 g) for an individual on a 2,000 kcal diet. Added sugars come in many forms and the total amount of sugar shown on an ingredient label (listed as grams of sugar) includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. Although all sugar is digested in the same way, it is important to know what added sugar is in comparison to naturally occurring sugar (like from fruit).
Luckily we are getting some help on our end, as the FDA recently passed new labeling laws that require those sneaky food manufacturing companies to list the amount of added sugars on their products. Finally, the “Food Police” are rounding up the bad guys (yay). However, until this is firmly in place, it is important look out for the following common names of added sugars on your food ingredient lists:
Fructose, fruit juice, caramel, cane juice, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, beet sugar, sucrose, sorghum syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, malt sugar, maple syrup, molasses, honey, high fructose corn syrup, glucose solids, galactose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose, dextrin, dehydrated cane juice, date sugar, agave, barley malt, corn syrup solids, carob syrup, and buttered syrup.
As Bill Nye the Science guy would say “Did You Know That? Now You Know!”
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