Sugars: Stay Away From Refined Sugars

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Sugar Cubes

As humans, we instinctually prefer sweet foods. Unfortunately, consuming simple sugars, especially in excess, can have detrimental effects on overall health. Additionally, simple sugars rapidly increase blood glucose levels, which then decrease just as rapidly. These acute shifts in blood glucose contribute to overconsumption and weight gain.

Initially, sugars rapidly raise blood glucose levels. As a result the pancreas secretes insulin, which causes glucose transport into muscles for fuel and into certain other organs for storage. Maintaining balanced, consistent blood glucose levels is essential to maintaining a consistent energy level during the day and to preventing weight gain.

Unfortunately, most processed foods contain excess simple sugars in one or more forms (i.e. high-fructose corn syrup). Sugar in one or more forms can be found in everything from soft drinks to cookies to cereals to salad dressings.

According to the USDA, Americans consume an average of over twenty teaspoons per day (360 calories per day), which equates to nearly 40 lbs per year. The main food culprits include regular soda, baked goods, breakfast cereals, candy, fruit drinks, and flavored yogurt.

Eliminating or significantly reducing intake of simple sugars is one of the most impactful dietary changes a person can make to improve overall health.

Watch out for the main culprits listed above, but also watch out for coffee drinks and cocktails that may contain large amounts of sugar or sugary substitutes. Also, food manufacturers have modified sugars, so there are now many forms with different names. The following table provides a comprehensive list of how different types may appear on food labels.

Alternative Names for Sugar on Product Ingredient Lists

Barley Malt Fruit Juice Maltodextrin
Brown Rice Syrup Galactose Maple Syrup
Corn Syrup Glucose Molasses
Dextrose High Fructose Corn Syrup Sorghum
Evaporated Cane Juice Honey Sucrose
Fructose Lactose Turbinado

EMG’s Nutrition Homepage: How to Eat Healthy