Sugar – It’s a Sticky Situation

Sugar.

Parents don’t want to give it to their kids. Adults don’t’ like it because it turns, quite quickly, to fat. But clever packaging and the misconceptions natural sugar and no added sugar tend to only raise more questions. Is all sugar created the same? Can you learn to navigate the sticky sweet sugar labels? What’s the difference in added, natural, modified, and fake?

According to a recently published article on cnet.com, “The US Office of Disease Prevention and the World Health Organization say you should get no more than 10% of your daily calories from added sugar each day — and even better is limiting added sugar to 25 grams (or six teaspoons) in total.” So if the first step includes knowing we should limit our sugar intake, the next step moves us into the tricky task of decoding, you guessed it, sugar itself.

Added sugar.

Just like it sounds, added sugar is, as you’d assume, added…by either you or a manufacturer. The various added sugars can be derived from several sources including coconut sugar, can sugar, maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar.

Natural sugar.

Certain foods like, for example, fruit, is a whole food and the sugar included is in its natural form. An apple doesn’t have added sugar and, again, as you’d assume, offers the added benefits of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While a fruit’s natural sugar, fructose, does affect your body and can raise both blood sugar and insulin hormones, it’s bound to fiber…something that aids your body in slowing down how fast you’re absorbing the naturally occurring sugar.

“Natural sugar, like the sugar found in whole food like fruits, is definitely part of a healthy diet for most people,” explains Jayne Williams, a certified nutritional consultant and clinical nutrition graduate student. “While fruits do contain low levels of fructose, which is a sugar, the overall nutritional value of a piece of whole fruit with all the vitamins, fiber and nutrients is well worth including in a healthy diet.”

Fructose should not, however, be confused with the often-added ingredient high fructose corn syrup. This chemical-made sugar is often a used as a sweetener in many processed foods.

Modified natural sugar.

The honey you add to your oatmeal and the agave you put in your smoothies are natural, but they’re sugar all the same. “Modified natural sugars are those that start from a natural source but need slight ‘modern intervention’ to make it to your table. Coconut sugar, raw honey and organic pure maple syrup all have some additional minerals and vitamins,” says Williams, “but are still sugar and can affect your blood sugar levels more than natural-occurring sugars in whole foods.”

Processed sugar.

Often called fake sugar, processed sugar has been stripped of any nutrition or health benefits. The modification process renders fake sugar difficult for your liver to process as it contains high levels of fructose. White sugar, cane sugar, and agave nectar, even if it’s labeled as low-glycemic, fall into the processed sugar category.

The take-away.

Stick to whole, unprocessed foods and stay away from processed foods and high fructose corn syrup. Watch for tricky food labels and packaging…just because you’re indulging in a smoothie or seemingly healthy prepared food doesn’t mean added sugar isn’t hiding inside. If you do add sugar, like honey, try to keep it at 6 teaspoons (or under) a day.

When you may not have access to quality whole foods, you can still achieve the necessary nutrition via NutriFusion’s quality supplements. Our ingredients are plant based and never include added sugar, just real food from nature to you. We use first-grade, fresh and high-quality fruits and vegetables to create nutrient dense powder full of natural vitamins and minerals.

Inspired by Good sugar vs. bad sugar, what’s the difference? by Mercey Livingston