Sugar

Refined sugar causes your body to crave more refined foods, suppress the immune system and causes your energy levels to spike then crash. There are more than 20 different names for sugar. The average American consumes about 150 pounds in one year of sugar. A person can lose 15 pounds in one year just by cutting out sugary sodas. The body is designed to utilize sugar in food as energy. Carbohydrates found in natural sugars and starches are broken down into simple components so they can be absorbed and converted to energy. However, refined sugar, also known as sucrose, has no nutritional value. Even though it’s derived from plants, it’s depleted of all other nutrients. All that’s left is pure carbohydrates that the body isn’t built to use. Since all of these empty calories can’t be used, they’re stored in the liver as glycogen. When the liver is full, excess glycogen is taken to the blood in the form of fatty acids and transported for storage all over the body, particularly to areas that usually are inactive– belly, butt, breasts and thighs. Once your body uses up the sugar, it craves more and sends you into withdrawal. If you don’t consume more, you experience a crash.

Human babies respond to sugar early in their life. The taste is pleasant because the calorie rich carbohydrates are an essential energy source for humans. The taste for all things sweet develop as you age. In the 20th century, the demand for sugar was high. Americans went from an annual consumption of about 5 pounds in the 1890s to the current intake of 150 pounds a year. Soda is a major contributor to our increased sugar intake. Sugary beverages won’t quench your thirst. They are literally like drinking liquid candy. Many Americans consume sodas with every meal, both kids and adults which may be a leading problem to the obesity epidemic in our society. Sugar absorbs water, so in your body you become thirsty. Drinking beverages with sugar to quench your thirst just makes no sense. Hidden sugar is also a problem. Sugar is in almost everything you eat. Some obvious foods are soda, cookies and candy, but look at the labels of ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, fruit juice, bread, cereal, soups, pasta, pizza, yogurt and cheese! You will see sugar that you never expected. Also, when foods are marked fat-free, check the label because it’s a great possibility that sugar is increased to raise palatability! Remember sugar goes by other names like dextrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, corn syrup, sorghum, galactose, invert sugar, and malt or maltose!

Granulated sugar, also known as white sugar or table sugar, is made both from sugar cane and sugar beets. Cane sugar is preferable for candy because it tends to crystallize less than beet sugar. Brown sugar is white sugar that has molasses added to it. In today’s manufacturing process, it’s more economical to refine all sugar, then add molasses back into it to make brown sugar. Light brown sugar has less molasses and less flavor. Molasses is a by-product of the sugar refinement process. It’s mostly used for its flavor and color. Unsulfured molasses is known as the finest quality and is made by boiling ripened sugar cane. Sulfured molasses is made from green sugar cane that’s treated during extraction with sulfur dioxide, which acts as a preservative. Corn syrup is sweet syrup made from corn starch. High fructose corn syrup has the same level of sweeteness as sugar and because it’s less expensive, it’s used more frequently. Americans now consume more high fructose corn syrup than any other form of sugar. Honey is twice as sweet as sucrose and has a unique flavor that enhances baked goods. It’s rich in antioxidants and long-term use has been shown to provide benefits such as improved digestion and stronger immune system. Stevia is the sweetener that’s extracted from a herb that’s 300 times sweeter than granulated sugar but with a glycemic index of 0.

Source: Cormier, Nicole. The Everything Guide to Nutrition: All You Need to Keep You–and Your Family–healthy. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2011. Print.

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