The Scoop On Sugar

The Scoop On Sugar

We all know that sugar is not good for you, so the more you cut down on it or change the kind of sugar, the better. If you can eliminate sugar all together that would be the best choice, but for the majority of the population, they’re not there yet…so hopefully this article will help you make wiser choices.

The American diet is full of sugar and research shows that sugary liquids (soda and fruit juices) are among the worst. Drinking concentrated sugar causes your liver to convert the fructose into dangerous fats. We won’t even go into all of the terrible food choices that are laden with sugar.

People who often over-indulge in sugar may develop some of the following health issues: elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol, fatty livers, high triglyceride levels, have a greater risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney stones, insulin resistance, cancer and more.

Here’s a short list of the artificial sweeteners to avoid at all costs: aspartame (brands NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and saccharin (Sweet’N Low). Other sugars that cause problems mostly because of the way they are processed or converted in your body are: agave, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, granulated white sugar, and many others.

It’s much better to eat your sugars from natural sources like those in vegetables and fruits where the sugars are mixed with minerals, vitamins, enzymes, fiber, and phytonutrients. Your body knows what to do with these sugars and other beneficial nutrients.

One of the better sugar substitutes is stevia, a herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant.  It has zero calories and is about 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need a very small amount (a few drops) to sweeten mostly drinks and some food.  Powdered stevia can leave a bitter after-taste, so the liquid stevia drops are a better choice.

A sugar alcohol called xylitol is a good choice for cooking and baking with a 1:1 ratio. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that can be extracted from plant materials like corn, and it comes with a benefit of fighting tooth decay. As a side note, xylitol is toxic to dogs and some other animals, so be sure to keep it away from your pets.

As with most things, stevia and xylitol should be used in moderation. Try getting into the habit of reading labels on all food and drink items so you know what you’re consuming. Again, no sugar would be your best choice, but as a stepping stone to a healthy lifestyle, these are some healthier alternatives.

If you need help with improving your nutrition and overall health, I’m here to help you. Go to the Time For Change Personal Training Services tab and click on the Nutrition Programs tab for more info.