We reopen the subject of sugar because it seems to have gained its reputation as “bad wolf” when it comes to health and more and more people are interested in the subject. Should we remove it from our diet?
Numerous studies have been presented associating sugar consumption with premature aging, cardiovascular disease, obesity and even cancer. Such research has prompted many health experts to demand reduced levels of sugar consumption, some even claiming its better to remove it altogether. Is sugar really so harmful to our health? Let’s see.
In simple terms, sugar is a crystalline carbohydrate that gives the sweet taste to food. There are various types of sugar: glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose and sucrose – also known as table sugar.
Some of these – glucose, fructose and lactose – are naturally found in fruits, vegetables and other foods. But many of the foods we eat contain added sugar – sugar that we add to the product to enhance its flavor, or even added by the manufacturer.
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Among the best known sources of added sugar are soft drinks, cakes, pies, chocolate, fruit juices and desserts. A can of cola contains up to 7 teaspoons of sugar, while a medium-sized chocolate contains 6 teaspoons of sugar.
Quite a few studies have been published claiming that added sugar increases the risk of hypertension, even more than sodium. In February 2014, one study associated added sugar with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
The impact is also that added sugar has been associated with a considerable increase in obesity. In the United States, more than a third of adults are obese, and the infant obesity rate has risen over the past 30 years, more than 2 times among children and four times among adolescents.
So, are we becoming addicted to sugar?
Many health experts, nutritionists and even celebrities have chosen to support the “no sugar” approach. But is it even possible to entirely remove sugar from food? Is it actually healthy?
To completely remove sugar from food is extremely difficult to achieve. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, alcohol and nuts – all contain sugar; you will not eat more than meat and fat – which is certainly not healthy.
Sugar can be part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Instead of completely removing sugar, many experts believe it can be consumed in a healthy diet, some even remarking its benefits, claiming that sugar is the body’s favorite energizer.
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One thing everyone agrees upon though is that we consume too much of it. Here are a few tips on how to maintain a balance when it comes to sugar consumption:
- Reduce the amount of sugar you regularly add to foods and beverages such as tea, coffee and pancakes.
- Replace sweetened beverages with sugar-free or low-calorie drinks.
- Compare food labels and select products with the smallest amount of sugar.
- When baking cakes reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by one-third.
- Try replacing sugar in recipes with extracts or spices such as cinnamon, ginger, almond or vanilla.
- Replace sugar from cereals or oatmeal with a fruit.