In the days before supermarkets and todays abundance of choice, early humans developed a taste for rare foods with sugar, salt, and fat to help them identify foods with high nutrient and energy content.
Today, most of the foods we eat are processed in factories by manufacturers interested mainly in selling more products.
They tap into our enduring taste preference — especially for sugar — to get us to buy more.
Too Much Sugar
Our access to tempting, energy-dense things to eat is fueling epidemics of nutrition-related diseases, like obesity and diabetes.
Americans, for example, now consume around 17 teaspoons of added sugars a day — more than one-third of a cup.
Be careful — many foods that advertise themselves as healthy are full of added sugar — read the label and learn to recognize the names they use to hide added sugar.
It comes from obvious sources like cookies, cakes, and sodas to less obvious products including bread, yogurt, savory sauces, and the majority of products in your supermarket and vending machines.
What is Sugar?
There are three “simple” sugars in nature – glucose, fructose, and galactose. Every caloric sweetener in nature is formed from a combination of these, and all the resulting sugars are treated in the same way by our body when we eat them.
Sugars in fruits and vegetables, when eaten with the fruit or vegetable they came from, are delivered with a mix of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that slow digestion and in a way our bodies can handle.
However, once removed from their original source and added to processed foods, they become added sugar.
When sugar extracted from natural sources is added to processed foods it digests very quickly causing a blood sugar spike and leading to a host of modern illness.
It is important to reduce our sugar intake to maintain optimal health.
Eating too much added sugar is associated with dental cavities to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Identifying Added Sugar
Manufacturers try to hide added sugars by using a wide variety of different labels that are hard for the beverage consumer to identify.
Here are some of the most common – it’s worth learning them so you can avoid unwittingly eating more sugar that you intend.
Easy to spot names:
- Beet sugar
- Brown sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Raw sugar
- Sugar cane juice
- White granulated sugar
- Agave nectar
- Fruit nectar
- Peach nectar
Watch out for the word syrup:
- Brown rice syrup
- Carob syrup
- Corn syrup
- High fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
Words ending in ‘-ose’:
More sneaky names used to hide sugar:
- Cane juice
- Cane juice crystals
- Corn sweetener
- Evaporated cane juice
- Evaporated corn sweetener
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Panela (raspadora)
- Sweet sorghum
How Much Sugar?
There are many guidelines on how much sugar we should be eating. They make recommendations in grams or teaspoons.
Here’s simple advice from coach Maria:
If you’re eating a healthy varied diet with lots of vegetables and fruit, you’re getting enough sugar.
Try to avoid all added sugar — it’s really quite difficult, but the better you become at it the better your health will be.
Learn more at 38 sneaky names for added sugar.
Thanks to Tufts University.