Sometimes it feels like trying to understand sugar is almost impossible. I’ve noticed that the more savvy I become, it seems the more determined manufacturers also become to making understanding food labels confusing.
So, if you want to avoid the whole sugar confusion, I’d suggest sticking to an unprocessed, whole food diet. You won’t have to worry about added sugar or sneaky sweeteners when you eat quinoa or broccoli. However, this is a real world. Thus, sometimes you will eat processed foods. But, when you do, keep these six things about sugar in mind.
1. Sugar usually hides behind names that sound harmless
Manufacturers know when to hide sugar. And, it’s usually behind innocuous-sounding names such as fruit juice concentrate. However, your pancreas and liver don’t care about seemingly healthy names. It all breaks down the same way.
2. Added sugar is worse than total sugar
Sugar, whatever the type, has the same effect on your body. It breaks down to glucose and fructose. However, natural sugar found in whole foods and fruits comes wrapped with nutrients, fibre, phytonutrients… that buffers its effects. Added sugars, on the other hand, comes in heavily-processed, nutrient-lacking food which is not only bad for your waistline, but also your health.
3. Artificial sweeteners aren’t any better
Artificial sweeteners got a free pass for far too long. This was until a number of troubling studies surfaced. They found, among other things, that sweeteners created glucose intolerance and gut-flora imbalances. So, try to avoid those pretty little packages.
4. A lot of “healthy” foods are loaded with sugar
Your local health food store is probably stocked with numerous products sweetened with honey, agave nectar and other “healthy sweeteners.” Well, don’t be fooled! A small cup of yoghurt can contain as much sugar as a chocolate bar. So, look at the food label for sugar amounts. However, keep in mind the fact that this is for one serving.
5. Fructose can cause metabolic damage
Nearly every cell in your body can utilise glucose. But, fructose heads directly to your liver. Research shows that fructose induces less insulin production as well as trigger hunger signals in your brain. Your body then turns fructose into liver fat instead of utilising this sugar for energy. A increase in visceral fat also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
6. Green juices can contain as much sugar as soft drinks
A lot of popular commercial green juices (I won’t give names) are not only loaded with the same amount of sugar as soft drinks but also have more fruit than veggies! So, if you can, make your own juice at home.
Image credit: @candibod