Sugar can be sneaky. Actually, it is more than sneaky, it’s infiltrated almost everything on store shelves and seems to be everywhere in processed and man-made foods.
What I’m referring to are added sugars, and you can find them in cereals, baked products like breads, pastries, and cookies, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, frozen entrees, processed meats, yogurt, ketchup, fat free products, and more.
Added sugars should not be confused with naturally-occurring sugars, which are found in fruits, vegetables and unflavored milk. When you take in naturally-occurring sugars, you are typically consuming fiber, antioxidants, vitamin, minerals, and protein, too.
At the grocery store, we are offered an incredible amount of products. Most of us want to get the healthiest, highest-quality products we can afford, but this task becomes difficult when we have 20 different brands of granola to choose from. Learn the truth about sugar and how it can sneak into your diet here.
Why is There So Much Sweetness in Everything We Eat?
The truth is that the food industry has manipulated food production in such a way that now most packaged foods have added sugar. Why? Because it is cheap to produce, it increases product shelf life, and it keeps people coming back for more in the form of sugar addiction and cravings.
Which Types of Sugar Does Your Food Contain?
To tell if a product has added sugars, you need to look on the back of the package—at the nutrition facts label and ingredient list.
Simple sugars have many different names, which include:
- White sugar
- Brown sugar
- Cane sugar
- Raw sugar
- Invert sugar
- Corn syrup
Some products may contain several types of added sugars. Try to choose products where sugar is not listed as the first or second ingredient.
This is Your Body; This is Your Body on Sugar
All these types of sugar absorb quickly in the small intestine raising blood sugar and triggering insulin production from the pancreas. Part of this sugar, or glucose, is used for energy immediately in the brain and muscles. The rest is metabolized in the liver and stored as glycogen for energy use later.
The problem is that most Americans don’t use that energy right away, so excess sugar is transformed into triglycerides and stored as body fat, resulting in weight gain. See the connection?
The daily recommended limit for sugar intake, as per the American Heart Association, is six teaspoons for women and nine for men.
There are 4 grams of sugar and 16 calories in 1 teaspoon. It is important to note that there is no daily percentage value listed for sugar in the nutrition facts label, as there is for saturated fats and sodium, for example, so it is very important to know the amount of sugar you are getting per serving of a particular product when watching your sugar intake.
Going over your daily recommended allowance is as simple as forgetting to account for the 16 grams of sugar per serving in barbecue sauce.
Combatting Sweetness Overload and Weight Gain
Despite the fact that added sugars are present in even the most unexpected foods, it is possible to significantly reduce your intake of those added sugars and combat weight gain, fatigue, insulin insensitivity and more.
Practice reading the ingredient list and nutrition facts on all food purchases, and compare different products and brands to find those with optimal nutritional profiles. When in doubt, choose wholesome, found-in-nature products that are rich in nutrients, because those are always fabulous for you!