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Nowadays, modern life makes it hard for people to balance or build a proper nutritious diet for themselves. Sugar is one of the essential nutrients for the body, but controlling the amount consumed is extremely important since too much sugar has a serious impact on health.
Natural vs. added sugar
Today, many foods are made and packed by machine (‘processed food’), then stocked on supermarket shelves. These all contain sugar, from yogurt to cheese and more. Look at the label and sugar commonly appears in the nutrition fact table. It acts as a preservative as well as an appetite stimulator. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sugar that we add to food is called ‘added sugar,’ and it is different from that which naturally occurs in food (‘natural sugar’). Types of added sugar are honey, white sugar, brown sugar, caster sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.
The more calories your body consumes, the more problems arise. Added sugar becomes calories and leads to weight gain, obesity, higher risks of heart disease and cancer, and gout. In the past, protein was thought to be the main cause of gout, but science has proven that sugar leads to the disease. Similar to alcohol, sugar passes through the liver and is transformed into uric acid which results in easy exposure to diseases.
Notably, ‘non-fat’ products often use sugar to preserve flavor. In the 1960s, research programs of two professors at Harvard University stated that fat harms our health and people should consume less. Later, research showed that fat is a secondary trigger. Cardiovascular diseases were found to be caused mainly by sugar. It is important to look at a product’s label and understand that ‘non-fat’ is not necessarily healthy.
Control levels and remain healthy
An average adult needs about 2,000-2,500 calories per day. If you have diabetes, the number is around 1,500. The amount of added sugar should be about 10 per cent of the total number of daily intake calories. This equals approximately 24 grams of sugar (6 tsp.). By controlling sugar levels, the body becomes healthier. For better results, try a reduction of 5 per cent (3 tsp.). Remember, 1 tsp. is equivalent to about 4 grams of sugar. When purchasing food products, make a habit of checking the nutrition fact table on the package that lists sugar content.
Controlling the sugar level (natural or added) in your daily diet is important to avoid the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But, remember that natural sugar in foods is actually not that bad. For example, an apple contains about 2.6 tsp. of sugar, but apart from that, an apple also has fiber and vitamins that help sugar absorb more easily. You should also limit the consumption of canned juices as they are essentially flavored sugar water. During mass production of juice the ingredients are heated, reducing the nutritional content. Instead, make your own fruit juice. Or, simply eat fruit instead of drinking pressed juice because it contains a lot of fiber.
For average, healthy people foods that contain natural sugar are not a problem. For those with diabetes, however, food containing natural sugar or added sugar should be carefully considered.
Sugar in daily food
|Pepsi||8.75 tsp. /can|
|Red Bull||6.9 tsp. /can|
|Sprite||8.25 tsp. /can|
|Mountain Dew||11.5 tsp./can|
|Old Jamaica Ginger Beer||13 tsp./can|
|Milk Chocolate M&M’s||7.5 tsp./packet|
|Cocoa Krispies||9.75 tsp./100gr|
|Honey Smacks||14 tsp./100gr|
|Golden Grahams||8.75 tsp./100gr|
|Shredded Wheat||0.1 tsp./100gr|
Cakes and desserts
|Carrot cake||3 tsp./medium portion|
|Muffin – chocolate chip||4.75 tsp./portion|
|Custard||3.25 tsp./medium portion|
|Chocolate mousse||3 tsp./medium portion|
|Swiss roll||2.5 tsp./slice|
|Doughnut (1 jam)||3.5 tsp./portion|
|Sponge cake||5.5 tsp./medium portion|