SUGAR, fructose, lactose, glucose, Splenda, High Fructose Corn Syrup, brown sugar….are you confused yet?! Unfortunately, we live in a time and era where we are constantly bombarded with many different types of sugars and different names of sugars. Is sugar even necessary in our diet? How much sugar should we be consuming? What kind of sugar is bad for me? What kind of sugar is good for me? All these questions are pondered and disputed by many people. It’s important to remember that one thing is absolutely true and accounts for everything. NOTHING in excess and everything in MODERATION! You’re not going to become obese if you eat the cupcake and you’re not turning into a model if you eat the apple. Rather, it’s the overall big picture of your diet.
Is the majority of your sugar intake coming from highly processed refined carbohydrates? (i.e. packaged cakes, cookies, crackers) Or is it coming from fruit, milk, and natural sweeteners? Even if the cookie has as many calories as the fruit bowl, it is important to thoroughly evaluate the food not just based on its caloric stance. But rather, the nutrients present. Fruits come with the added benefit of being full of fiber and many WONDERFUL and vital nutrients that can transform you body and nourish it to help it glow from the inside out. With the processed cookies, cakes, and crackers they often times comes with an abundance of bad fat that can cause us to become obese and put as at a risk for developing cardiovascular disease if consumed in excess amounts. In addition, these highly processed foods also come with the addition of many ingredients, preservatives, and additives that are foreign to our bodies and completely unnecessary.
Glucose is the name of the simple sugar that is present in fruits, vegetables, honey, and corn syrup. Also known as dextrose, it is used in the industry in baked goods, cake mixes, custards, sherbet, candies, and beverages.
Fructose is the name of the sugar present in fruits and honey and many plants. This kind of sugar is rarely used in the food industry and is known to be the most dominant kind of sugar in plants. High Fructose Corn Syrup is NOT fructose but rather it is glucose(simple sugar) derived from corn starch and used commercially in baked goods, fruit drinks, jams & jellies, table syrups, baby food and many others. It is often times confusing because most people think that they are the same thing when they are not. HFCS starts out being 50% glucose and 40% fructose, but the fructose is turned into glucose through an elaborate process adapted by the food industry creating its deceiving name.
Lactose is the sugar present in milk products and it is a very sensitive kind of sugar that many people cannot digest causing the Lactose intolerance craze. For use in commercial baked goods, it is often times extracted from whey for its use.
Refuting the popular disbelief that brown sugar is healthier than regular sugar, there is not a single piece of evidence to support this idea. Most people tend to believe that anything brown is better than white…white vs. brown bread and pasta, etc. However, in this case with brown sugar, the brown color comes from the high molasses content present.
Being primarily composed of the fructose sugar, honey has been regarded as a super food because of its adaptability for many purposes. A food that nourishes from the inside out, its high antibacterial properties and many beneficial nutrients that are present make it a food that can cure anything from a sore throat to dry hair. With all the many different varieties and uses, it is regarded to as one of the most popular sweetners.
Splenda is the commercial name for Sucralose, a sugar that our bodies cannot digest therefore making it zero to very little calories. It is about 100 times more sweeter than regular sugar, which is why you only need one packet of Splenda to put in your Starbucks coffee versus the six packets of sugar you’re used to putting. It is also used in many diet, sugar-free, zero, and lower sugar items in the food industry. Although there isn’t enough evidence, but some studies link this noncaloric sugar with an increased risk for obesity and other nutrition related disorders.
How Much Sugar?
According to the American Heart Association, for women sugar should be limited to 25 grams per day(6 teaspoons) and for men 37.5 grams(9 teaspoons). While these are the numbers to stick by, it is important to remember that moderation and flexibility is the most important concept to grasp. No one is perfect and there will be some days where you will scarf down an entire stack of 6 Oreos! We are only human and this is normal, but the important thing to remember is that if you over do it one day, then you watch what you eat the next. In addition to exercise and living a smoke free life with capability of reducing stress, this will truly yield a healthy body.