Most people know that sugar isn’t very good for them, but do you know just how bad it really is? In America, an average of 16% of daily calories come from added sugar. For women, this equates to 230+ calories, and for men, 335+ calories. To put things in perspective, that means by merely cutting out added sugars, you could lose a ½ pound or more per week, even if you changed NOTHING else. At that rate, you’d be loosing nearly 26 lbs in a year just be removing added sugars!
What are added sugars? These are any sugars (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, molasses, dextrose, sucrose, glucose, maltose, etc.) that don’t occur naturally in foods. So, we’re not talking about fruit or dairy, both of which come with some natural sugars, but are also packed with other valuable nutrients. We’re talking desserts and sweetened beverages like cakes, cookies, cupcakes, candy, chocolate, ice cream, pudding, Little Debbie confections, soda, energy and sports drinks, sweet tea, and sweetened coffee drinks. This ALSO includes less obvious added-sugar culprits like most flavored/fruit yogurts, a number of pre-made sauces and dressings, many low-fat options, and even juice (which is essentially glorified sugar water). Not only are these types of products packed with extra sugar and empty calories, they are also typically high in poor fats, low in protein and fiber, and devoid of most vitamins and minerals. Cutting out added sugar often results in simply cutting out most processed foods, and as a result, eating more natural, unprocessed foods.
Ok, so beyond the potential for weight loss when avoiding added sugar, why else should you do it? Well, added sugar consumption has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure, reduce heart-healthy HDL levels and increase heart-hurting LDL levels, increase the risk of heart attack, reduce mental acuity, increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as depression, impair healthy dopamine/neurotransmitter signaling in the brain, damage skin, increase acne, increase the risk of diabetes and cancer, increase cravings (leading to even more added sugar intake), and even reduce immune system function. Whew. That doesn’t sound very appetizing to me! Additionally, added sugar foods tend to not be very filling, thanks to their lack of protein and fiber, resulting in you being hungry again very quickly and eating even more!
So, do your health, your waistline, and your teeth a favor and when it comes to sugar, just say no. For more ways to cut out the sugar and still enjoy your meals, come see us at CoreLife!
Aubrey Phelps MS, RDN