Why should we even care to limit sugar?
Eating too much sugar creates a state of inflammation in the body, which we know is the cause of all disease from diabetes to cancer, and even is associated with how likely you are to get acutely ill. In addition to causing inflammation, too much sugar also makes us gain weight, which increases the chance of being diagnosed with chronic diseases. Salt usually is what comes to mind when talking about blood pressure, but too much sugar actually raises your blood pressure too; that’s important because high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of both heart and kidney disease. Plus, from a vanity perspective, eating too much sugar actually ages your skin! Adults, on average, are consuming 3-4x what is recommended; children are unfortunately eating even more than that (34 tsp vs the recommended 4).
First, what are added sugars?
Quickly, let’s define added sugars. They usually sneak their way into pre-packaged foods and are also purely found in ingredients like honey and agave. For pre-packaged food, you want to look at the ingredient list and remember that those first few ingredients are the heaviest in the product so we generally want to avoid those with a derivative of sugar as one of those first few ingredients. Added sugar can be guised under many (like over 50!) names. Here are a few common examples: fructose, dextrose, molasses, sucrose, cane sugar, fruit juice, and brown sugar (which is metabolized in the same way as white sugar). Let’s look at a nutrition label with added sugar: