Oh, sugar! The sweet, delicious ingredient that adds a touch of happiness to our lives. But did you know that not all sugars are the same? Natural and refined sugars have their own unique characteristics that affect our bodies in different ways. In this blog post, we'll explore the joyful truth about sugar and discover the differences between the two. We'll bust some myths and provide tips on how to reduce your sugar intake without sacrificing the joy it brings. So join us on this exciting journey as we dive into the wonderful world of sugar!
Is sugar the villain in our story?
From teeth cavities to diabetes, consuming too much sugar may adversely affect your body.
So, is sacrificing sweetness in your life really the only way to maintain an overall healthy life? Well, no, not really. The key is to be aware of the differences between natural sugar and refined sugar.
But first, what is sugar anyway..?
Sugar comes in many forms. They are a form of simple carbohydrate naturally present and produced in plants and dairy products.
The body breaks down carbohydrates and converts them into simple sugars like glucose that fuel your organs, muscles, and brain.
4 common types of sugar:
Glucose: This type of sugar is also known as dextrose and is the primary source of energy for our bodies. It's found naturally in many foods like fruits, vegetables, and honey. When we eat these foods, our bodies break down the glucose and use it for fuel. So next time you bite into a juicy apple or sip on a sweet smoothie, thank the glucose for the energy boost!
Sucrose: This is the sugar we often use in baking and cooking. It's made up of glucose and fructose, and it's found in sugar cane and sugar beets. When we consume sucrose, our bodies break it down into glucose and fructose, and we get a burst of energy and sweetness. Think about the last time you indulged in a delicious slice of cake or a scrumptious cookie. That's sucrose working its magic!
Fructose: This sugar is naturally found in many fruits, and it's the sweetest of all the sugars. When we eat fruit, our bodies break down the fructose and use it for energy. But, as with all sugars, it's important to enjoy fructose in moderation. So the next time you're savoring a juicy piece of watermelon or a succulent mango, remember to thank the fructose for the sweet treat!
Lactose: This sugar is found in milk and other dairy products. It's made up of glucose and galactose, and it's an essential nutrient for many people. Lactose gives milk its slightly sweet taste and provides us with calcium, protein, and other vital nutrients. So whether you're sipping on a frothy latte or indulging in a creamy bowl of ice cream, you can thank the lactose for the delicious taste and the nutrients it provides.
While naturally occurring, sugar can also be manufactured and added to other foods to enhance them. These are known as refined sugars.
Natural Sugars vs Refined Sugars
Natural sugars are found naturally in plants and dairy products. Foods that contain natural sugars are usually paired with extra nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Refined sugars are usually heavily processed. They can also come from a natural source but are processed until only sugar is left. They are also considered empty calories as they don’t contain any nutrients.
Refined sugars are usually used to sweeten a variety of food and beverages like cereals, sweets, desserts, and sodas.
Granulated Sugar (derived from sugar cane)
High Fructose Corn syrup (derived from corn)
How does too much refined sugar affect you?
According to a research review and a few studies, consuming relevant doses of added sugar causes:
Increased risk of heart disease: Studies have shown that consuming too much added sugar can increase your risk of heart disease. When we consume too much sugar, it can cause inflammation in our bodies, which can damage our arteries and increase our risk of heart attacks and strokes. But the good news is, by cutting back on added sugars and replacing them with healthier options like fruits and vegetables, we can lower our risk of heart disease and keep our hearts healthy and happy!
Diabetes: Consuming too much added sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. When we eat foods that are high in added sugar, our bodies release more insulin to help our cells absorb the sugar. Over time, this can cause our cells to become resistant to insulin, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and eventually, diabetes. But by choosing healthier options like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, we can keep our blood sugar levels stable and reduce our risk of diabetes.
Weight gain: Weight gain is another common problem that comes with consuming too much added sugar. When we eat foods that are high in added sugar, we consume more calories than we need, which can lead to weight gain over time. But by choosing healthier options like nuts, seeds, and lean proteins, we can feel full and satisfied without consuming too many calories.
Fatty liver: When we consume too much sugar, our livers can become overwhelmed and start storing the excess sugar as fat. This can lead to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can cause inflammation, liver damage, and other health problems. But by cutting back on added sugars and choosing healthier options like whole foods and healthy fats, we can keep our livers happy and healthy.
With that in mind, here are healthy alternatives for refined sugar that you can use:
Stevia: Stevia is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant and has been used for centuries in South America as a sweetener.
Monk Fruit: Monk fruit is a small, green fruit that is native to Southeast Asia and is known for its sweet taste.
They provide a sweet taste without the added calories or negative health effects of refined sugar.
Coconut Sugar: Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of coconut palms and is rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium, and zinc. This means that it not only provides a sweet taste but also important nutrients that our bodies need.
Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees and is a good source of antioxidants and minerals like zinc and manganese.
Molasses: Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process and is rich in vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium.
Honey: Honey is a natural sweetener made by bees and is rich in antioxidants and has antibacterial properties, making it a great choice for those looking to boost their immune system.
Date Sugar, Syrup or Paste: Date sugar, syrup, or paste is made from dried dates and is high in fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
Erythritol (Zero Calories): Erythritol is a natural sweetener derived from fruits and vegetables and is zero calories and does not affect blood sugar levels.
So are you supposed to forgo all the sweetness in your life?
Not at all! Our NEW Low Sugar Wild Strawberry is the perfect treat for any time of the day. Naturally sweetened with erythritol and fused with raspberry and strawberry puree - this granola gives you the sweet without the sugar.
Other delicious options:
Sugar itself is not unhealthy when consumed in moderation. Natural sugars are better for health as compared to refined added sugars.
Make sure to read nutritional fact labels on food packaging carefully, to make sure they are not loaded with added refined sugars.