Sugar can be sneaky. We all know the obvious foods and beverages we can find sugar in: muffins, scones, candy, cookies, soda, sports drinks, etc. And then there are the less obvious places where sugar can hide. Because so many foods and drinks have added sugars, we are likely consuming more sugar than our bodies need, which can lead to extra pounds and potentially, health issues.
Perhaps you had granola for breakfast, a grilled shrimp salad with ranch dressing for lunch, brown rice pasta with tomato sauce for dinner, and some frozen yogurt for dessert. Sounds pretty healthy, doesn't it? Until you zoom in on the ingredients on the label and realize that you have potentially consumed about 50 grams of added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams/9 teaspoons of daily sugar intake for men and 25 grams/6 teaspoons for women. You can see even with the meals mentioned above, you have exceeded your daily intake. Why is this a problem? Added sugars have zero nutrients and many have added calories that can lead to extra weight.
Should you avoid sugar? Nope, not unless a medical professional has advised you to for medical reasons. Our bodies need sugar. The right sugar, that is. And of course in moderation. There are two types of sugars: naturally occurring and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars can be found in things like fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars can include any sweeteners or sugars added to foods or beverages during preparation or processing. Added sugars also include natural sugars like white sugar, brown sugar, and honey. It's recommended that we eat foods with naturally occurring sugar like fruits and vegetables, and limit the consumption of foods with added sugars, like ice cream, yogurt, cereal, soda, etc.
When looking at labels for added sugars, if you see ingredients like the ones below (this is a partial list), then I would recommend looking for an alternative product with less or no added sugars, or make the food yourself.
What are some common foods with added sugars? Here's a partial list:
canned or boxed soups
nuts or seeded butters
While most of the sugar I consume comes from fruit, vegetables, and grains, there are a few foods I eat that contain added sugars, and I keep those to a minimum. When at the grocery store, If sugar is in the first few ingredients on a label, I will move on from that product, and try to find a product with less added sugars or if possible make the food myself. I recently stopped buying granola to make my own and have refined that recipe to reduce the amount of sugar even further. I've also modified other recipes that once called for a fair amount of sugar and either use less then what's called for or alternatively a small amount of honey.
Next time you're at the grocery store, take a look at some labels and scan the ingredients list. I'm certain you will notice that many foods and drinks have added sugars like the ones mentioned above. Those added sugars can quickly add up and push you right over the recommended daily allowance for sugar.
This is a (very) surface look at sugar. There are many layers to sugar and understanding these little molecules. If you want to know more, ask me questions!
Check out this week's move of the week video: Reverse Bicycle with Weighted Ball