Sweet Talk on Sugar

Now that another sweet Holiday is over let’s take a look at the sugar in our day.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest source of dietary sugar in the US diet. There has been a good amount of research on how soft drinks have a negative impact on health.

The questions that remain unanswered: Is sugar added to nourishing foods a health hazard? Is sugar added to pasta sauce (to make it less acidic) bad for you? What about the sugar added to bread (to help make the dough rise) — Is that a cause for concern?

Too many consumers fear foods which list sugar on the food label.

Sugar may be one ingredient in the food, but don’t forget to look at the others too. For example, cooked tomato products are a great source of the photochemical, lycopene. Bread is a hearty carbohydrate source and provides some protein and fiber. Chocolate milk has sugar (that refuels muscles) but it also offers protein (to repair muscles), sodium (to replace sweat loss), calcium & vitamin D to enhance bone health.

10% of calories should come from added sugar according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you eat 2000 kcal in a day, that’s 200 kcal from added sugar or 50 grams. This does not include sugar coming from milk or fruit.

Focus on limiting added sugars from foods such as cakes, pies, cookies, soft drinks, candy, pastries, ice cream, jams and syrups. It’s not that you can never eat these foods, but they should not be foods you choose to eat often, in large quantities.

Base your diet on fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains, unflavored oatmeal, unprocessed meats, fish, nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt, cheese and drink plenty of water. Occasional sweets can still have a place when you start with a healthy base.

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