When we think of sugar, the first food items that most likely come to mind are cake, cookies, candy, and soft drinks. Unfortunately, sugar is finding its way into almost everything we consume, sometimes, in alarming quantities.
After recently watching the documentary, Fed Up, and navigating through research of my own, here are some of the findings I could not resist sharing.
The American Heart Association and The World Health Organization both recommend no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and nine teaspoons a day for men. Each teaspoon equals approximately four grams of sugar.
The only organ that processes sugar is your liver. When you consume large amounts of sugar at once, your liver has to work tirelessly to process this soluble carbohydrate. Therefore, the excess amounts of sugar are immediately turned into fat. In the documentary, Fed Up, Professor Robert Lustig, a Professor of Pediatrics in San Francisco, California describes this process by comparing the consumption of a handful of almonds to a soft drink. When you consume almonds, they do not get absorbed as quickly because they contain fiber. The fiber causes your blood sugar levels to rise at a much slower rate, leaving you feeling full longer. Now let’s compare that to a soft drink. The lack of fiber in soda causes the rush of sugar to quickly enter the liver. The liver has no choice but to quickly turn all the excess sugar immediately into fat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American consumes around 19.5 teaspoons of added sugars a day. Think about that for a minute. If someone placed 20 teaspoons of sugar in front of you, would you begin to think differently about what you’re about to eat?
Don’t be fooled, sugar can be labeled under a plethora of names, such as, cane sugar, brown rice syrup, sucrose, and dextrose. Therefore, just because you don’t see the word sugar, do not assume it’s not there; there are around 55 different names!
Want to know what’s in the food you’re eating? Familiarize yourself with nutrition labels and check to see the amounts of sugar. Certain snacks and foods can astound you with the amount of sugars added. Some foods you may have thought were healthy can easily tack on several grams of added sugar without you even realizing it. Certain yogurts, coffee creamers, and protein bars can easily put us over the recommended amount leading to excess fat. Instead, get in the know and develop alternative healthier options such as eating plain unflavored yogurt and add fresh fruit. It’s important to remember that whole fruits contain fiber and there is no added sugar.
Now more than ever, our society is faced with health conditions that are affected by what we eat. Don’t forget to set your kids up for success too, as habits begin being built at a young age. If you’re consuming large amounts of sugar in the foods and beverages you choose, your children will most likely do the same.