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This Month In Diet
  • I Heart Food
    Take care of your heart by eating the right foods and avoiding the bad. Which are which? Read this guide to find out. Read >>
  • Added Sugars?
    Sugars come in many different forms, but the overall consensus is that too much of the sweet substance can have some not-so-sweet effects on your good health. If only it were easier to spot and avoid sugar. Here's how. Read >>
  • When Food’s No Longer Fun
    For some, food is an unhealthy obsession that leads to all kinds of eating disorders. When this happens, eating is no longer a way to nourish the body, but a way to try to gain control over life. Read >>
  • Calorie Cutting Made Easy
    Don’t make cutting calories more difficult than it has to be. Try these simple suggestions to reduce your calorie intake. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Added Sugars?

Best and worst foods for the health of your heart.

Sugar. It’s an ingredient you’ll find in countless processed and prepared foods. It’s also a natural ingredient in foods such as fruit and milk. Whether natural or added, sugar is a simple carb used by the body for energy. Sugars come in many different forms, but the overall consensus is that too much of the sweet substance can have some not-so-sweet effects on your good health.

Unfortunately, most people love the taste of sugar. Their sweet tooth craves sugar-filled drinks and foods such candy, cookies, cakes, donuts, and ice cream. And an occasional treat is fine. The problem is that it’s not always easy to spot and avoid sugar. Because sugar is also added to many foods that don’t necessarily taste sweet. It’s no wonder the average person consumes way too much sugar every day.

What are the different types of added sugars and how do they harm your health? Are there simple ways you can reduce the amount of sugar in your diet? Keep reading to find out.

Understanding Nutrition Labels

Every food manufacturer is required to list ingredients and nutrition facts on food packages. As you read through the list of ingredients (listed in descending order of amount), watch for various types of added sugars, and realize that they masquerade under many different names.

One of the most common indicators of added sugar is the word syrup. Added sugars are found in corn syrup, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, or maple syrup. Ingredients that end in the letters –ose are also types of added sugar. This includes lactose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), anhydrous dextrose, dextrose, maltose, and sucrose. Other common added sugars are listed as sugar, raw sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, honey, molasses, nectars (pear or peach), and cane juice.

Nutrition labels list the total amount of sugar (in grams) per serving. This can be confusing if a food also contains natural sugars. Thankfully, food labels are beginning to include the amount of added sugar (in grams) per serving as well to clear up confusion.

Purpose of Added Sugars

If sugar is so bad for you, why is it added to so many foods? The most basic reason is that people like the taste of it. Often, people prefer the taste of it to their own good health. But flavor isn’t the only reason for adding sugar to foods. It’s also used to help preserve food, balance a food’s overall acidity, and prevent fermentation. In some cases, it is used simply to increase the volume of a food.

What’s the Big Deal?

So what’s the danger of added sugars? For one, they add calories without adding nutritional value. Those added calories contribute to obesity and diabetes.

Too much sugar also increases blood pressure and chronic inflammation, both risk factors for heart disease. Because sugar-filled drinks and foods often lack nutrients, a diet high in processed foods may lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Additionally, sugary foods contribute to tooth decay, as the bacteria that cause cavities love to feed on sugars.

Cutting Back

Most people consume more added sugar than is recommended for good health. Children younger than 2 years of age should eat no added sugars. Older children and women should consume fewer than 24 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day and men should consume fewer than 36 grams or 9 teaspoons a day.

Want to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet? It can happen with a few simple changes. Instead of drinking soda, lemonade, sports drinks, or fruit cocktails, go for water, milk, or unsweetened tea instead. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit or a small piece of dark chocolate. Buy cereals with fewer than 5 grams of added sugar per serving, reduced-sugar jams and jellies, and canned fruit in water or juice, not syrup. And between meals, snack on fruits, vegetables, nuts, or whole-grain crackers rather than cookies and candy.