Sugar has gotten a bad rep over the last few decades for being a component of carbs that leads to bad health. Eating too many sugary foods and snacks is often blamed for the obesity epidemic, chronic acne, and mood disorders. Is any of that even true? It turns out the answer isn’t what you think. Sugar can actually be nutritious as long as it’s from the right sources.
Are Artificial Sugars Healthier?
Many dieters or health-conscious people will eat sugar-free or artificial sugars in or with their meals to avoid the so-called adverse effects of white or brown sugar. However, these foods are often worse for your overall health than plain old processed sugar. Artificial sweeteners specifically lead to insulin and stomach problems that could become chronic.
In this blog post “Is Sucralose Bad For You,” the author shares a 2013 study done by the Diabetes Care Journal that states that obese patients saw a 14% increase in blood sugar levels and a 20% spike in insulin after consuming sucralose – that’s not good.
While it’s safer to eat low sugar options, it isn’t by much. They’re also often filled with artificial sweeteners like sucralose to add taste to the food. Anytime a company takes natural sugars out of food, it’s almost always worse for your overall health.
Are Processed or Minimally Processed Sugars Also Bad?
When someone talks about “processed sugar,” they’re usually referring to white, brown, or can sugar. They may also be speaking about high-fructose corn syrup, which isn’t a common ingredient in processed foods in the modern era.
Adding sugar to your diet, whether it’s a bit of brown sugar on your French toast or a teaspoon of white sugar in your tea, can lead to health problems in the future. Even minimally processed sweeteners like honey or maple syrup are detrimental to your health because the amount of nutrients in these foods is minimal. To your body, most sources of sugars are the same.
Is Natural Sugar Bad for You?
Disaccharides, a complex sugar found in sucrose, lactose, and maltose, take longer to break down and can lead to weight gain and mood swings when found in a synthetic form. However, complex carbohydrates, like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, are good for your health and should be eaten to form a balanced diet.
It sounds confusing, but natural sugars aren’t bad when they’re found in fruit because they contain fiber, which slowly breaks down sugar molecules. Fruit also has a lot of nutrients you won’t find in processed foods that add sugar. For example, a medium apple contains 19 g of sugar but also contains vitamin A, C, calcium, iron, B-6, and magnesium.
The issue here is eating sugar that contains empty calories, not the sugar itself. If you were to drink cranberry juice instead of cranberries, you wouldn’t stay full for long, and yet, you consumed a bunch of extra calories.
What Do Experts Recommend?
Health organizations recommend switching from enriched and bleached carb or sugar sources (like white flour, white pasta, or candy) to whole grain or natural products. The refinement process strips natural ingredients and leads you with carbs that are full of sugar and little nutritional value.
You’ll gain weight if you eat too many sugars, that’s true, but only if those sugars aren’t balanced with nutritional value. Broccoli has 2.5 g of sugar per 148 g serving, but you don’t see anyone keeping it off their plate for its sugar content. All carbs have sugars, but not all carb sugars are harmful. If you remove sugar from your diet, you’re missing out on nutrients.
Don’t keep leafy greens, fruit, and complex carbs off your plate because you’re afraid of gaining weight from sugars. Sugars from carbohydrates break down into glucose in the body, which is our prime energy source and helps our brain function, so load up on healthy carbs!