It’s easy to associate sugar with obvious culprits such as sweets, chocolate and soft drinks, but what about added sugars in everything from cereal to yoghurt?
Too much added sugar can lead to health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.
But we also need to keep in mind that sugars differ – the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables are not the same as added sugars.
Eating an apple, for example, will add natural sugar and fibre to your diet.
An apple is a much better source of energy than apple juice.
We need natural sugars in our diets to supply us with energy.
However, the quantity of sugar that any person should consume will depend on their total energy needs.
An active young person will consume more than a sedentary older person.
An important disclaimer: The amount of sugar for each food item is based on the average for that specific size and should be used as a rough guideline.
The sugar content may vary depending on size and brand
Good & Bad Sugars
Sugars and other carbohydrates can play a role in a healthy, balanced diet, but not all sugars have an equal impact.
The difference in good and bad sugar lies less in the sugars themselves than in how they’re consumed, and how quickly they cause your blood glucose levels to rise.
As a rule “good” sugars come in healthy whole foods, while “bad” sugars come in highly refined, processed foods.
The three types of carbohydrates in your diet — sugar, starch and fiber — are all built from sugar molecules. Common sugars such as sucrose, fructose and lactose only contain one or two molecules of sugar.
Starch and fiber are complex carbohydrates, often made from hundreds of sugar molecules.
During digestion sugars and starches are processed into glucose, a basic form of sugar used to transfer energy through your bloodstream.
Sugars and simple starches digest relatively quickly, causing rapid increases in blood glucose.
Sugars that cause a rapid spike can be thought of as “bad” and those that don’t can be considered “good,” though that’s less about the sugars themselves than how you eat them
Bad sugars increase your risk of gaining weight and of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
One teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories, a teaspoon of honey has 21 calories and you’ll get 136 calories, including 33 grams or 8 teaspoons of sugar, from a 12-ounce can of generic cola.
These empty calories quickly add up to potential weight gain.
When sugar enters your bloodstream, your pancreas releases insulin, which enables sugar to move into cells. Cells sometimes become resistant to insulin.
When that happens, sugar stays in your blood, and that increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Extra sugar also causes an increase in triglycerides, which contributes to cardiovascular disease