It’s important to understand that even natural sugars should be consumed in moderation.
Eager to get the scoop on sugar? Well, before you take any scoops, learn what kinds of sugars to avoid and what are okay to add to your diet.
October 23, 2019
Sugar comes in many forms, and not all types of sugar are created equal. From natural sugar found in fruit and dairy products, to artificial sugar substitutes that are often added to processed foods and beverages, sugar is lurking almost everywhere.
Consuming too much sugar increases a person’s risk of chronic inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and a wide range of other conditions. To safeguard your health, it’s important to know the difference between natural sugars that, in moderation, are good for you and the artificial and added varieties that are not. It’s just as important to know how much is too much when it comes to the sweet stuff.
There are several types of sugar to be aware of when planning your diet or checking nutrition labeling.
Sugar is a naturally occurring substance found in fruit and some vegetables. Natural sugar lactose is found in milk. Honey, maple syrup, and molasses are natural, nutritive sweeteners that provide calories and energy.
It’s important to understand that even natural sugars should be consumed in moderation.— Dr. Kevin Lopez, MD
According to the Food and Drug Administration, artificial sweeteners, also known as high-intensity sweeteners, are much sweeter than sugar. They are often praised for adding very few calories to foods and beverages, but there is a trade-off. These manufactured sugar substitutes add chemicals to a person’s diet. Side effects of artificial sweeteners range from increased cravings for sweets, to digestive issues. They’ve been linked to imbalances in the natural gut bacteria that so vital to maintaining overall health and preventing disease.
Artificial sweeteners are most often found in processed foods that are marketed and labeled as “diet” or “sugar-free.” This includes soft drinks, drink mixes, candy, canned foods, jellies and jams, dairy products, baked goods, and much more.
The six artificial/high-intensity sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration as food additives are:
Stevia is another sweetener and sugar substitute that is generally recognized as safe by the FDA.
Other names for added and artificial sugars or sweeteners that you may find in the ingredient listing of processed foods and beverages include:
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, brown sugar contains about 17 kilocalories per teaspoon, compared with 16 kilocalories per teaspoon for white sugar. Because of its molasses content, brown sugar does contain some minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium, but not enough to produce any noticeable difference in nutritional value. So no, brown sugar is no more healthy than plain white sugar.
When it comes to sugar consumption, it’s best to choose natural sources like fruits, vegetables, and unsweetened dairy products.
The American Heart Association suggests the following guidelines for daily sugar intake:
In general, Americans consume far more sugar than recommended. The biggest source of excess sugar is sweetened beverages. One 12-ounce can of soda contains roughly 10 teaspoons of sugar – more than the recommended daily total for men and women.
Wondering if you’re consuming too much sugar and if it’s taking a toll on your health? Talk to one of the many exceptional District Medical Group physicians at Valleywise Health. Dr. Nyima Ali at Valleywise Community Health Center – South Phoenix and Dr. Kevin Lopez at Valleywise Community Health Center – Avondale and Valleywise Comprehensive Health Center – Phoenix, both of whom specialize in obesity medicine, can answer questions and provide more information on the role of sugar in obesity. Call 1 (833) VLLYWSE to make an appointment today.