What is sugar?
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that provides our bodies with energy. It is naturally present in foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. However, it can also be added to processed foods and drinks to enhance their taste. Excessive consumption can have negative health impacts.
Are there different kinds of sugar?
Sugar can be found in many forms, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Glucose is the primary source of energy for our bodies and is found in foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes. Fructose is the sugar found in fruits and some vegetables. Sucrose, commonly known as table sugar, is a combination of glucose and fructose.
How does sugar impact my health?
Consuming too much added sugar is associated with several health issues. A study comparing impact of sugar intake and body weight in adults and children found increased sugar intake associated with weight gain and reduced intake of sugars associated with a decrease in body weight. Consuming sugary foods and drinks also puts us at risk of tooth decay, as bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugars, producing acids that harm our teeth.
How do I monitor my sugar intake?
To monitor your sugar intake, it is important to read food labels carefully. Added sugars can be found in a variety of products, including sodas, candy, desserts, and even some savory foods like tomato sauces and condiments. Look for terms like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, and dextrose on the ingredients list. Be aware that sugar can also hide under different names, so it's essential to be vigilant.
Some practical tips:
1. Choose whole foods: Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods provide essential nutrients without the added sugars found in processed foods.
2. Drink water or unsweetened beverages: Replace sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices with water, herbal tea, or unsweetened coffee.
3. Cook at home: Preparing meals at home gives you control over the ingredients you use, allowing you to minimize added sugars.
4. Limit processed snacks: Snack on nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits instead of reaching for sugary snacks.
5. Be mindful of portion sizes: Enjoy your favorite sweet treats in moderation, focusing on smaller portion sizes.
By being aware of hidden sugars, making informed food choices, and moderating our intake of sugary foods and drinks, we can better manage our sugar consumption and promote healthier habits. Remember, small changes in our daily routine can have a significant impact on our overall well-being.
How can I learn more or get access to healthy foods?
The Wellness League Search Tool helps you find free and low cost programs in your community to learn more about healthy eating or find a food pantry. On the search page, simply enter your zip code and the resource you’re looking to find like “nutrition education” or “food pantry”.