Natural vs. Added Sugars
We love a good controversial topic around here and when it comes to diet & health, SUGAR may be the most controversial topic of them all.
But before dismissing sugar as the root of all evil and the culprit behind all your health & weight woes, let's drop a little #truthbombtuesday.
Sugar is Energy.
No matter which form sugar comes in, Natural or Added Sugar, sugar is a fuel source.
Sugar is a form of simple carbohydrate. Simple carbohydrate is FAST FUEL.
Meaning, our body can convert the sugar we consume into energy quickly.
No matter what type, when we consume sugar our body can...
Use it for energy right away, like for exercise
Store it in our muscles & liver (this is called glycogen) for use later
Convert excess sugar (that can't be used or stored as glycogen) into fat storage
But not all sugars are created equal.
Natural Sugars are sugars found naturally in the food
Makes sense right?
Naturally occurring sugars are found in fruit, milk, and honey.
The natural sugar in fruit is fructose + fruit offers vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, & fiber.
The natural sugar in milk is lactose + milk offers protein, calcium, & vitamin D.
Added Sugars are added during processing & preparation of the food
These are sugars like refined white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, & maple syrup.
They are added to items like baked goods, candy, ice cream, soda, energy drinks, juices, and also foods like granola, cereal, energy bars, pasta sauces, ketchup, salad dressings, and yogurt.
Here's the difference.
While both Natural & Added Sugars provide ENERGY, the foods they are found in don't offer the same nutrient benefits.
The fiber & protein found in fruit & milk take longer to digest and cause a different response to our blood sugar (more controlled).
Many of the foods high in Added Sugars lack health promoting nutrients and will cause a less controlled blood sugar response...meaning an energy spike & then crash.
Diets HIGH in Added Sugars are associated with weight gain, poor blood sugar control, and development of chronic diseases.
So should you avoid all Added Sugars?
Absolutely not! Foods with Added Sugars can fit into ANYONE'S diet. The key is MODERATION.
Experts recommend limiting Added Sugars to <10% of total daily calories consumed. (i.e. - If you consume 2,000 calories per day, limit calories from Added Sugars to 200 calories or less)
Most often choose natural sources of sugar that offer energy + additional nutrient benefits.
Choose Added Sugars and foods that do not offer health promoting benefits less often (check the Nutrition Facts Label).
Work with a Registered Dietitian to individualize recommendations and timing of food and nutrients for your needs and goals.
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