By now almost everybody knows, or should know, that too much sugar has a big negative impact on your health. Eating too much sugar may lead to blood sugar problems, weight gain, cardiovascular diseases and more. But are all sugars unhealthy or is it possible to distinguish between natural fruit sugars and added sugars?
What's our biggest ene.... I mean sugar!
Sugar comes in many names, fructose, glucose, saccharose, lactose, dextrose, maltose, these are all sugars with fructose (from fruit) and lactose (from milk) being the natural sugars. Automatically you would think that fructose and lactose are the go-to sugars. However, your body does not see the difference between these sugars and sees any type of sugar simply as sugar because the chemical structures are all generally the same. This means that even too much natural sugars can have negative effects on your health.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), advises adults not to consume more than 50 grams of sugar per day to lower the risk of the obesity and tooth decay. About 0,5L of freshly made orange juice contains this amount, it is therefore advised not to drink more than 150ml of orange juice per day.
And here is a list of some more foods which contain 50 grams of sugar.
- 5 teaspoons of Nutella
- 460ml of Coca-cola
- 1,5 Mars bars
- 3 Large Bananas
To get a better view of foods and their sugar contents it is important to learn the difference between sugar-free, low in sugar and no added sugar foods.
- Sugar-free foods contain less than 0,5 grams of sugar per 100 grams or less than 0,5 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.
- Low in sugar food contains less than 5 grams per 100 grams or less than 2,5 grams per 100ml.
- No added sugar foods have no added sugars in them. However, this doesn’t mean that they do not include natural sugars, to begin with. So, watch out for these foods and read the label to see how much sugar they actually contain.
Should we even care if we eat foods with added sugars or natural foods with natural sugars?
Natural and artificals sugars
Yes of course! Because the most important difference between foods with added sugars and natural sugars is that natural sugars occur in healthier foods such as fruits. When eating fruit, you eat so much more than just fructose. Fruits include healthy micronutrients such as vitamins and fibers. This makes the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. For example, you eat a pear flavoured candy with 10 grams of added sugars compared to an actual pear with 10 grams of sugar. The candy will be quickly absorbed and make your blood sugar levels rise very fast which is not good. The actual pear contains fibers which slow down the breakdown and absorption of sugar into your blood. Also, the pear has a few vitamins which are healthy for many different reasons.
Based on numbers, you would have consumed the same amount of sugar, and as we learned, your body doesn’t see the difference between the added sugar and natural sugars but due to the other healthy components of the pear, it is a way healthier choice!
Let’s recap, too much sugar can lead to many health complications, therefore the WHO advises eating no more than 50 grams of sugar per day. Your body does not see the difference between natural and added sugars, but natural sugars occur in healthier foods which will have components to slow down the breakdown and absorption of the sugars and usually have more healthy nutrients such as vitamins. Therefore, it is important to avoid sugars with high contents of added sugars and try to stick with healthier and natural foods.
I hope this blog has given you some new insights into the world of sugar and eating healthier. Don’t forget to comment down below a topic you would like to see next time or tell us about your relationship with sugar. We would love to hear about it!
Written by Sven Nicholson | Online Personal Trainer @ www.healthychanges.nl