NUTRITION KNOWLEDGE – THE SOUR SIDE OF SUGAR

In this country, most of the sugar used in our food products is from sugar cane and corn. Often, the concentration of sugar in many of our food products (baked goods, cereal, yogurt, juice drinks and soft drinks) is very high relative to the other macronutrients of the food: protein and fat.

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The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization both recommend only 5 percent of our total calories from sugar (4 calories per gram). As of July 2018, nutrition labeling on foods will list the added sugars in the total sugar of a product.

Why does sugar get such a sour wrap? Mainly because added sugars are usually in foods or drinks that have little or no nutritional value and high calorie levels. Sugar consumption (especially by itself without protein or fat) causes our blood sugar to increase, triggering insulin secretion which allows us to use the sugar as energy. This can create several problems. First, we rarely need all the energy produced by large concentrations of sugar, so our body stores this as fat very quickly when not used. Second, a constant cycle of this can eventually create a condition known as insulin resistance, which leads to pre-diabetes and eventually, if left uncorrected, diabetes.

Is honey or agave better? Well, yes and no. Honey, agave and even pure maple syrup are in a more natural, less processed state so they do contain nutrients, antioxidants and are processed by our digestive system better than the more processed sugars. However, they are still digested very quickly and should be used in small amounts and in the proper proportion to proteins and good fats.

Have a sweet treat once in a while, but remember, sweets are “treats,” not staples of our diet.