Facts About Sugar

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Are you concerned about the sugar in your diet? These are some facts you probably want to know.

Sugar in processed foods

Sugar is found in many processed foods. If you read the label in the products you buy, you may be surprised to note its presence in beans, soups, yogurt, baby food, vegetables, bread, even non-sugar coated cereals, catsup, peanut butter, salad dressing, chili, and many other foods.

Burning off extra sugar

Adding 4 extra teaspoons of sugar to your diet every day, one expert points out, will necessitate walking 1 mile per day to work it off, or you will gain 6 pounds in one year.

Dietary need for sugar

There is no specific dietary need for sugar, as such. The body's nutritional need for glucose can be met by many other carbohydrates, as well as by protein or fat (which are not preferred sources).

Inborn attraction to sugar

Our attraction to sweet taste is believed to be inborn. When a sweet solution is injected into the amniotic fluid of a pregnant woman, the fetus will swallow actively, a reaction considered intuitive.

Sugar and dental carries

Most dentists agree that sticky sweets are a major source of dental carries in children. Sweet foods that are part of a meal are less cavity producing than between-meal snacks. The total amount of sugar eaten is not as important in the formation of dental decay as is the type of sugary food eaten, how often it is eaten, and how long it sticks to the teeth. Brushing and flossing teeth and rinsing the mouth after meals and snacks is recommended.

Quick energy?

Sugar and other sweets do not really provide “quick energy”; they just provide a quick rise in blood sugar. The body has energy reserves it can call on when needed for activity and does not need, or particularly profit from, an outside food source such as a candy bar or high-sugar drink for “instant fuel” just prior to activity.

Sugar and obesity

While some people link sugar and heart disease, there is no scientific support for such speculation. However, a diet high in sugar (or, of course, high in any other source of calories) may lead to obesity, which is often associated with heart disease as well as various other health problems.

Cutting down on sugar

To cut down on sugar consumption, try the following:

  • Always read the label on processed foods and avoid those with sugar (or other sweeteners) such as dextrose, fructose, or corn syrup high on the list of ingredients.
  • Switch from soft drinks to fruit juices or water.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar you use in coffee or tea, or eliminate it altogether.
  • Do not keep sweet food in the house, or use them to reward children.
  • Serve more fresh fruit and fewer baked goods for snacks and dessert. Beware of the high sugar contents in the sugar of many canned fruits.
  • Experiment with gradually cutting down on the amount of sweetener in recipes. Adding a grated carrot to a recipe can replace some of the sugar in tomato sauce, salads, or even cookies.

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