FIT for Women, Health & Wellness

The scoop on sugar

By The Edith Sanford team

June 4, 2014

spoonful of sugar_157541706So much about maintaining a healthy diet and reducing risk for breast cancer and other disease, seems complicated.

When it comes to sugar, however, there are just two things you need to know:

  1. Americans eat too much of it.
  2. It’s really, really bad for us.

 

Added sugar vs. natural sugar

There are two types of sugars to understand: naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.

Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods like fruit and dairy products. Added sugars are the ones that can really sneak up on you and cause problems. These are the sugars added to foods and beverages when they’re processed or prepared.

Added sugar is found in everything from soda (duh) to salad dressing (really?!?). Some of the worst offenders are foods that aren’t considered “sweet,” such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and bread. Reduced-fat and fat-free foods also have lots of added sugar to make up for lost flavor.

Here are some good tips from the USDA to help you spot added sugar. And remember, when reading labels, 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon!
 

What are the consequences?

Research shows that more than 70 percent of American adults consume 10 percent or more of their calories from added sugar. About 10 percent of adults consume 25 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.

What’s wrong with that? Beyond tooth decay and empty calories, a high-sugar diet is one of the primary causes of obesity and metabolic disorders like diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease. And, as you may know, excess weight gain is also linked to an increased risk for breast cancer and may affect overall survival.

If the health consequences aren’t enough to make you step away from the candy jar, consider this: sugar also makes you look older. Fructose (part of the sugar molecule) is a potent oxygen radical, causing high rates of cell damage and death, speeding along the aging process. Nobody wants that.
 

Bottom line?

You can have too much of a good thing. In the interest of your health (and stunning good looks), avoid foods with added sugar, skip the soda and save sweet treats for truly special occasions.