Sugar has become a four letter word…with five letters! It’s been a buzz word for awhile as many of us are trying to kick our sugar habits. Whether we cherish our morning caffeine buzz or a little sprinkle here and there, there really are very few health benefits to sugar.
The more you know about sugar, the better you can become at making beneficial choices when it comes to the foods we choose to eat. Many people think that eating fatty foods is the cause of our high blood pressure and cholesterol epidemic but that is just not true. It’s sugar, the added sugar!
Let’s just review some sweet facts about sugar…
What is added sugar? Added sugar are the sweet condiments we add to our foods. It’s the honey we drizzle on our Greek yogurt, the sugar in our cookies, the pinch to sweeten our first bowl of fresh strawberries.
All sugar is bad. Well that is a myth. Again, it’s the added sugar, and refined sugar that can be harmful to optimal health. Sugar we eat in our fruit is naturally occurring and comes with a healthy combination of other nutrients and fiber. The fiber ensures that the sugar is being absorbed into our body at a slower rate than the quick result of sugar rush from the afternoon Snickers bar.
Natural sweeteners are better. Well, they are if you are choosing between white sugar and agave nectar but still, the added nutrients of a natural sweetener are minimal and inconsequential.
Sugar is addictive. There is very little evidence to support this idea. Sugar can give us a rush by spiking our insulin levels, providing a burst of energy but we burn through it quickly and often feel the opposite when it wears off.
Swap sugar for sugar substitutes. This is a common trap but the sweet substitutes like Aspartame, saccharine and sucralose to name a few still affect your blood sugar and can increase your appetite, thereby increasing your weight.
What’s a girl to do?
Well, as is common in most things, balance is the key. Instead of just starting out with a cold turkey regimen, pay attention to the sugar you add to your foods or the foods you indulge in that contain refined sugars like your cookies, muffins, pastries etc. Try to reduce the amount of sugar free foods you eat and drink that are made with the sugar substitutes. Finally, one of the best ways to track the sugar you consume is with a food tracking app. There are many free options on the market to day and as you enter the food, it will tell you not only the added sugar but the overall sugar and fiber content. When we are educated more on the food we eat, it’s easier to make better choices for our overall health.
Another important take away thought is that, if you are struggling with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, give yourself a couple of weeks with reduced sugar intake and see what benefits you might obtain towards better health.
The more we know, the healthier we can become.