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Added sugar: where is it hidden and how much is safe for health

We often hear that sugar is good for the brain, that it’s hard to live without sugar, and so on. Most often I come across such statements from representatives of the older generation – grandmothers who seek to feed my child or their grandchildren with candy, sincerely believing that this will benefit them.

Glucose (or sugar) in the blood is the fuel on which the body works. In the broad sense of the word, sugar is, of course, life.

But sugar is different. For example, there is sugar naturally found in the plants we eat. And there is sugar that is added to almost all processed foods. The body does not need carbohydrates from added sugar. Glucose is produced from any carbohydrates that enter our mouths, not just sweets. And the added sugar does not represent any nutritional value or benefit to humans.

For example, the World Health Organization recommends no added sugar at all (or free sugar, as they call it). By free sugar, WHO understands: 1) monosaccharides and disaccharides ADDED to food or drinks by the manufacturer of these products, by the cook or by the consumer of the food, 2) saccharides that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juice or fruit concentrate. These recommendations do not apply to sugar found in fresh vegetables and fruits and milk.

However, modern people consume too much added sugar – sometimes unknowingly. Sometimes we put it in our own food, but most of the added sugar comes from processed and finished convenience foods. Sweet drinks and breakfast cereals are our most dangerous enemies.

The American Heart Association recommends a drastic reduction in added sugar intake to slow the spread of the obesity epidemic and heart disease.

One teaspoon holds 4 grams of sugar. According to the recommendations of the Association, in the diet of most women, added sugar should be no more than 100 kilocalories per day (about 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams of sugar), and in the diet of most men, no more than 150 kilocalories per day (about 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams of sugar).

The proliferation of alternative sweeteners is misleading, making it difficult to understand that the same sugar is hidden under their name. In an ideal world, the label should tell us how many grams of sugar each product contains.

Sweet drinks

Refreshing drinks are the main source of excess calories that can contribute to weight gain and have no nutritional value. Studies show that “liquid” carbohydrates, such as those found in store juices, soda, and sweetened milk, do not saturate us like solid foods. As a result, we still feel hungry, despite the high calorie content of such drinks. They are responsible for the development of type II diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases.

The average can of sweet soda contains about 150 kilocalories, almost all of these calories come from sugar — usually high fructose corn syrup. This is equivalent to 10 teaspoons of table sugar.

If you drink at least one can of such a drink every day and at the same time do not reduce calorie intake from other sources, you gain about 4-7 kilograms per year.

Cereals and other products

By choosing whole, unprocessed breakfast foods (like an apple, a plate of oatmeal, or other dishes that have a very short list of ingredients), you protect yourself from added sugar. Unfortunately, many traditional morning foods, such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, cereal bars, oatmeal with flavors and flavors, and baked goods, may contain a lot of added sugar.

How to recognize added sugar on a label

In order to calculate the added sugar in the list of ingredients, sometimes it takes a whole investigation. He hides under numerous names (their number exceeds 70). But despite all these names, your body assimilates the added sugar in the same way: it does not see the difference between brown sugar, honey, dextrose or rice syrup. Food manufacturers can use sweeteners that are terminologically completely unrelated to sugar (the term “sugar” actually only applies to table sugar or sucrose), but all these are forms of added sugar.

Below are some names under which added sugar is hidden on the labels:

– agave nectar,

– condensed cane juice,

– malt syrup,

– Brown sugar,

– fructose,

– maple syrup

– reed crystals,

– fruit juice concentrates,

– molasses

– cane sugar,

– glucose

– unrefined sugar,

– corn sweetener,

– high fructose corn syrup,


– corn syrup,

– honey

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