The Sweet Truth About Sugar01 Jul, 2018
Navigating through the options
It’s hard to believe that the average Canadian consumes 40kg of sugar per year, or approximately 26 teaspoons per day. This is double the recommended limit of 10% or less of calories obtained from sugar.1 Eating too much sugar can lead to heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and cavities. While sugar is naturally found in many foods, it’s often added to other foods as well. Here’s more on sugar and satisfying your sweet tooth the right way!
What is Sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate that adds sweetness to foods and drinks. There are many different types of sugar, but as they break down in the body, they all become glucose, which is a source of energy. Making sugar is a process of extracting it from plants containing naturally high concentrations of it, such as sugarcane or sugar beet. Sugar can also be made from palm, coconut and other plants. Some sugars are processed for longer periods of time and all the minerals and vitamins that naturally occur in the plant are removed. Such is the case with the white sugar (table sugar) that most of us are familiar with.2 Some other examples of sugars are brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, agave syrup and stevia. Most of these have approximately 15 to 20 calories per teaspoon. Stevia is calorie-free.
Sugars we consume can be divided into two categories:
- Naturally occurring: in fruit, vegetables and dairy
- Added: in desserts, candy and beverages
Food with naturally occurring sugars are often a part of a healthy diet because they also provide fibre, vitamins and minerals. But we are often eating too much additional sugar that is hidden in processed products or added to our foods and drinks on a daily basis.3 These are usually refined sugars, such as white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Consuming it in excess can cause health problems.3
A Sweet Choice
For the most part, added sugars are high in calories while having no health benefits, so it’s best to reduce or avoid added sugars. Try making your own meals and desserts and substitute sugar with fruit, sweet cereal with oatmeal, and juices and pop with tea and water whenever possible. Also, get in the habit of reading nutritional labels and aim for foods that are lower in sugar and higher in fibre.
Note: Look at % Daily Value (DV) and keep in mind that:
- 5% DV or less of total carbohydrate per serving is low
- 20% DV or more of total carbohydrate per service is high
It’s easy to turn to a delicious treat when you’re having a sweet craving, but it shouldn’t take the place of a nutritious healthy meal or snack. Take control of your health and eat nutritious foods that are low in added sugar whenever possible. Like everything in life, moderation is key.
- CBC news. Lower sugar intake to less than 5% of daily calories, WHO says. Mar 5, 2014. Retrieved from: www.cbc.ca/news/health/lower-sugar-intake-to-less-than-5-of-daily-calories-who-says-1.2560639
- Canadian Sugar Institute. Cane Sugar Refining. Retrieved from: www.sugar.ca/nutrition-information-service/educators-students/purification-of-sugar.aspx
- Eat Right Ontario. Kids, Sugar, and Healthy Eating; What you need to know about sugar. Oct 9, 2016. Retrieved from: www.eatrightontario.ca/en/articles/childrens-nutrition/healthy-eating-and-healthy-weights/kids,-sugar-and-healthy-eating.aspx and www.sugar.ca/nutrition-information-service/educators-students/purification-of-sugar.aspx
Parts of Article from: Spring / Summer 2018 of The Wellness Connection: The Healthy Living Magazine for Costco Members.