Some people feel that we must eat sugar. But this is not true. Your body can make all the sugar it needs from the complex carbohydrates and proteins. You would be perfectly fine even if you did not eat another cookie or a candy bar ever again.
With that in mind, naturally occurring sugars, such as sugar in fruits or honey, are perfectly fine when used in moderation. What is not fine is the absurd amount of added sugar that is consumed by eating processed foods.
When you eat a real fruit, like an apple or an orange, you get fiber, vitamins, minerals, plus dozens of healthy phyto-nutrients (phyto- means related to plants) which are good for you. You also get some sugar in the form of fructose. How many apples or oranges do you eat at a time? One, maybe two.
One large apple contains 3 grams of fiber and 13 grams of sugar, about half an ounce. One large orange has 3.8 grams of fiber and 13.8 grams of sugar, about the same as an apple. So even if you eat 2 large apples or oranges, you will get at most about an ounce of natural sugar along with 6-7 grams of fiber and all the nutrients that the fruits contain.
One can of soda will give you about 27 grams of refined sugar with no fiber, no nutrients and loaded with synthetic chemicals that your body definitely does not need. Clearly an apple or an orange is a healthy choice.
There was a time when sugar was a delicacy available only to the very rich. Not any more. The cost of sugar and other sweeteners is so low that it pays to add it to processed foods. This way the manufacturers can use less flour, which is more expensive than sugar.
Sugar is used to make cakes, cookies, candy bars, chocolate, ice cream and other sweets. Sugar is added to sodas, punches, and fruit drinks. Sugar is also added to bread, baked foods, yogurt, cold cuts, ketchup, salad dressings, cereals, and practically every processed food.
According to USDA report, sugar consumption has been rising steadily and hit an all-time high in 1999, the last year for which data is available. The amount of sugar used in 1999 was 147 lbs per person.
The way they figured it out is by dividing the total amount of produced and imported sweeteners (19.5 million tons of sugar!) By the number of people living in the country, which at the time was estimated to be 269.7 million. This means that every man, woman, child, toddler and infant consumed on the average about 150 pounds of sugar per year! This is about 50 teaspoons daily.
Obviously, infants and toddlers are too small to eat so much sugar and many adults choose to eat little or no sugar. This leaves more for others. This means that many older kids and adults are eating a lot more than 150 pounds per year.
If you do, you are not making a wise choice. Obviously, all this sugar is not going to improve your health. It has a very high glycemic index and it floods your blood with glucose, which turns into fat and causes inflammation in the arteries.
Sugar is the main reason for the epidemic of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It is also responsible for heart disease and cardiovascular problems that kill most Americans. It is quite simple – the less added sugar you eat, the healthier you will be.
Natural foods do not contain a lot of sugar, only processed foods do. So what is the best way to avoid added sugar? Do not eat processed foods.
For more information about Glycemic Index, please see my article How Glycemic Index Can Make You Healthy.