Are some sugars better for you than others? Or is the sugar just sugar? MQ Health Dietitian Valentina Duong gives us the lowdown on the sweet stuff.
We all know someone who has quit sugar or swears agave nectar or honey is the only healthy option, but are they right? Two of the most mentioned culprits fueling the global obesity crisis are high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and white sugar, due to their high fructose content.
In addition to obesity and its associated diseases, extremely high fructose diets can lead to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
HFCS and white sugar are also known to cause inflammation in the body, which has links to a series of serious illnessesfrom cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.
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Although HFCS is banned in Australia, it is widely used overseas in products such as soft drinksand it may be present in imported articles.
Sugar can make you fat
Registered Dietitian Valentina Duong of MQ Health’s Healthy Weight Clinic says that all added sugars can lead to weight gain if we eat enough of them.
“When it comes to added sugars, gram for gram, one is largely the same as the other,” she says.
“Just like white sugar, raw sugar, muscovado sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave are all empty calories with little nutritional value, and they can all contribute to weight gain.
“Yes, white sugar is ultra-processed, but the less-processed options aren’t all that much better for you, and they can lull you into a false sense of security.
“Honey has some antibacterial qualities, soothes sore throats, and absorbs a little slower than white sugar, but overall people overestimate its benefits.
“Less processed sugars contain slightly more trace minerals than white sugar, but just like white sugar or HFCS, they are very easily converted into energy and cause spikes in blood sugar.
“Used in small amounts to flavor home-cooked meals, they can be part of a balanced diet.
“Consumed in excess, any added sugar contributes to weight gain and tooth decay.”
How much added sugar is too much?
World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend that both adults and children get no more than 10% of their daily energy intake from added sugars. This equates to about 50 grams of added sugar per day, or 12 teaspoons.
However, if this were reduced to less than 5% of energy intake – around 25 grams or six teaspoons – it would be even better for our health, according to the WHO.
Sugary drinks are a well-known source of added sugar and one of the easiest to cut out of our diets.
A 600 milliliter bottle of Coca-Cola contains about 17 teaspoons of sugar, while a 500 milliliter bottle contains between 12 and 16 teaspoons. However, sports drinks and bottled iced teas are also deceptively high in added sugar, at nine and six teaspoons, respectively.
Duong says it pays to read the label on food products before buying them.
“We all know that high-calorie foods such as confectionery, cookies, cakes, and soft drinks contain a lot of added sugar, but it’s also hidden where you wouldn’t expect it,” says Duong.
Cereals, muesli bars and flavored yogurts can be surprisingly high in added sugars, even those marketed as “healthy” or intended for children.
“Low-fat products are often high in sugar too. Advertising has taught us to associate low-fat with low-calorie, but fat is flavor, as chefs say, and manufacturers need to make a product that tastes good. taste for success, they often replace fat with sugar.
“Even sauces and dressings can be falsely high in added sugar,” she says.
The article continues below.
Fruit yogurts ranked by sugar, from lowest to highest
Not all sugars are bad for you
Many types of food, such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products, contain natural sugars, and these are very different from free sugars.
Duong says just because something tastes sweet doesn’t mean it’s bad for you, adding, “I don’t subscribe to ‘cut the sugar’ or ‘if it’s sweet, spit it out’ schools of thought. -the “”, she said.
“There’s a lot of fear around fructose because it’s in white sugar and HFCS, but fruit has so many nutrients that eating two or three pieces a day is good for your health.
“It has fiber to slow the absorption of fructose, so you don’t get those blood sugar spikes, and it’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
“And all fruit is good, so don’t listen to people who say that bananas, for example, are bad for you. Remember that a glass of fruit juice is not an alternative to eating of a piece of whole fruit.
“You’ll never eat six oranges at once, but a glass of juice has all the sugar of six oranges without any fiber. Drinking large amounts of juice can lead to weight gain, as can sugary soft drinks,” says- she. .
READ MORE: What does “eating the rainbow” actually do for your body?
Duong says vegetables are very low in sugar — even those that are often demonized, like carrots and sweet potatoes.
Dairy products also contain natural sugars, but these are not as concerning as added sugars. Unsweetened dairy products like skim milk, cheese, and plain yogurt contain protein, calcium, phosphorus, and probiotics for gut health, and in moderate amounts they don’t need to be avoided.
Duong says artificial sweeteners are considered safe, although when consumed in excess, some can cause stomach upset.
“There are questions about their effect on beneficial bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tract, but it’s still being researched,” she says.
“A number of studies have shown that replacing sugary drinks with sugar-free alternatives has a significant impact on calorie intake and body weight.
“At the end of the day, water is best, but diet sodas can be useful as a short-term stepping stone when moving away from sugary sodas.”
By Valentina Duongregistered dietitian practitioner MQ Health and Georgia Gowing Healthy Weight Clinic.
This article is republished from Macquarie University Lighthouse with permission. Read it original article.
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