It hasn’t been until recently that we’ve wanted to know what’s in our foods. Sugar in any form is a necessary part of our diet, but some sugars are better than others. If you are watching your intake or simply want to know some facts about added and natural sugars, here’s where to start:
Natural sugars occur in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. These are easily the most beneficial sugars to ingest. Added sugars are extracted from their original sources and added to other substances. This is usually as a means of preserving shelf life. There are dozens and dozens of various names for added sugar, including corn syrup, nectar, and maltose. I suggest researching full lists of all the names for added sugar. Once you’re savvy to the multiple forms that added sugar takes on, you will know how to watch out for it. Be sure to read your food labels closely.
Fructose is found in fruit, and it’s a natural sugar as opposed to added. The fructose in fruit is good for stimulating the metabolism and the development of our bodies, which is why so many people swear by fresh fruit. However, once the fructose is extracted from fruit and added to other things such as juices and syrups, the effects on our bodies change. The fructose found in juice access the liver much quicker than its predecessor, and therefore, it gets stored as fat much more quickly.
Lactose is prominent in dairy products, and it’s also a natural sugar. Many people worry when they see the sugar content in milk and yogurts, but this isn’t always a negative thing. Dairy is high in sugar naturally; it’s the added sugar in flavored milk and yogurts that we ought to watch out for. Scan the ingredients in your yogurt for important names of added sugar before buying them. As always, a general suggestion for low-sugar yogurt is plain Greek yogurt.
As mentioned above, the way the body metabolizes added sugars is different than how it metabolizes natural sugars. Because the body breaks down added sugars more quickly, it gets stored as fat more easily, and it leaves you still feeling hungry after you’ve eaten. Natural sugars like in fruits and dairy have higher counts of fiber, which causes you to feel full. Many health concerns surround the ingesting of added sugars, including obesity, heart problems, and even certain cancers. It’s important to limit your added sugars as much as possible.
Ultimately, sugar is something that our body requires. Many people fear the word “sugar,” and even try to replace it with no-calorie sweeteners, but there are also risks on that end. It’s best to intake real sugar in a healthy way. Shy away from the donuts and the diet sodas and look into dairy and fruit options. Your body will thank you in due time.