Little babies and kittens are sweet. A hometown sports team breaking a tie game with a win is sweet. A grandparent reading with a young person is sweet. The intake of over 75 pounds of sugar per person each year is not sweet, it is downright unhealthy.
Seventy-five pounds of sugar is over 20 teaspoons of daily sugar or close to 7 tablespoons a day. This is not sweet, it is an excess. A person’s body is not designed to overdose on sugar without adverse effects.
The American Heart Association recommends approximately 7 teaspoons daily for women and 9 teaspoons of sugar a day for men. Any more can jeopardize their health.
Take for example drinking a 12 ounce can of soda pop or cola. Ginger ale or a clear soda pop does not make it less sugary. There are approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar in each can. Consuming a piece of cake, ice cream or candy with the drink just increases the sugar content of the snack.
Fruits are sweet and they are broken down into sugars in the body. Milk sugars and the sugars that come from starchy foods are not the unhealthy culprits. Added sugars, such as, white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, honey, sorghum, molasses, maple sugar, pancake syrup, high fructose corn syrup and simple syrups need to be limited.
Many hidden added sugars are included by manufactures. Some of these sweet additions are unpronounceable and not easy to recognize. Nonetheless, in excess they remain harmful to health.
Health professionals can link excessive sugar intake to tooth decay, damage to the liver, elevated triglycerides, heart disease, diabetes complications and obesity. Eating sugary foods often replaces healthier alternatives in the diet. Cookies for breakfast are not recommended.
Labeling all sugar as evil only makes sweet treats more tempting and overindulgence is a danger. A person does not need to eliminate sugar completely in order to be healthy. Even the Heart Association recognizes this and recommends that a little can go a long way.
It is difficult to avoid sugar in packaged foods. There is added sugar is in nearly everything from yogurt to tartar sauce.
A switch from processed foods to scratch cooking can decrease secret sugars. Whole fruit provides natural sugar loaded with valuable nutrients and fiber. Skip adding a sugar crust on a grapefruit half. By the way, the darker the chocolate the lower the sugar content and the healthier it is for the heart.
Sugar is used in baking to make a product light and fluffy but the sugar in many recipes can be reduced by half. Try using applesauce as a sweetener instead. Explore the spice rack for enticing ingredients such as vanilla, lemon, nutmeg or allspice to enhance flavor.
Cookies for breakfast are sweet but there are other ways to have a sweet day. Fruit is not added sugar, have a piece or two or three for good daily health.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]