Are All Sugars the Same? October 24, 2016

by Eat

Hi everyone! This is Rebecca, HelloFresh’s in-house Dietitian, reporting for blogging duty. You may have seen me cooking up a storm live on Facebook, but today I’m here to talk about sugar. After all, Halloween is around the corner, so there’s no better time to get the facts about sugar straight and learn the differences between natural and added sources of the sweet stuff.   

facts about sugar-HelloFresh

All sugars are created equal, right?

Not exactly. Natural sugars are found primarily in fruits, veggies, and milk – they provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. On the other hand, added sugars are, as the name suggests, added during production or processing. They offer excess calories and can contribute to weight gain by taking away from the number of nutrient-rich foods you can eat while still staying within your calorie limits.

Why should I care?

The new 2015 USDA Dietary Recommendations advise Americans to limit their sugar intake to no more than 12 teaspoons per day (about 48 grams). This may sound easy on paper, but our taste buds are being assaulted daily. We’ve become so sugar addicted that it’s not uncommon to find added sugars in ingredients like tomato sauce, yogurt, breakfast cereals, and bread (yes, bread).  The worst offenders are soda and sweetened fruit drinks. In fact, the last 20 years have shown a 35% increase in the amount of fruit drinks and a 41% increase in the soda we drink.

What’s the deal with honey?

Honey:

  • Lightly processed or in raw form, leaving intact small amounts of vitamins and minerals as well as beneficial antioxidants
  • 1 Tablespoon = 68 calories and 17 grams of carbs
  • Triggers a delayed insulin response, giving the body more time to respond to the sugars

White Granulated Sugar:

  • Processed and stripped of beneficial vitamins and minerals
  • 1 Tablespoon = 49 calories and 15 grams of carbs
  • Triggers a quick insulin response, impatiently demanding attention from the pancreas

UPCOMING RECIPE:  Honey and Orange Chicken Jambalaya with Tomato Rice

Sooooo what do you recommend?

Fill up on fruit: Fruit is naturally sweet and loaded with fiber to slow down the release of sugars and prevent blood sugar from spiking. Essentially, fruit tricks your taste buds into thinking they are getting a treat! Sneaky sneaky…

Eat in moderation: Overeating sugars in any form will lead to an increase of calories, which can contribute to weight gain. But does this mean you should give up the sweet stuff entirely? Of course not! Aim for no more than 2.5 grams of added sugar per 100 calories. For women, limit added sugars to 25 grams/day (6 teaspoons).  For men, limit to 38 grams/day (9 teaspoons).

Read food labels: Sugar can go by many names: sucrose, fructose, dextrose, lactose, honey, cane sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, and malodextrin. If any of these appear as one of the first three ingredients, think twice.

Speaking of reading your food labels closely, learn how to properly read for nutrition.

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7 comments

Lindsey says:

Thanks for the Great info. Can you provide the recommended daily amounts for children, too?
Thank you!

Rebecca Lewis MS RDN says:

Hi Lindsey – Glad you found the information helpful! The Dietary Recommendations of Daily Sugar Intake for children are:
Children 1-3: less than 25g
Children 4-8: less than 30g for females and less than 35-40g for males
Children 9-13: less than 40g for females and less than 45g for males

Sara says:

What about coconut palm sugar. Is it really better?

Rebecca Lewis MS RDN says:

Hi Sara,

Coconut palm sugar is basically sap extracted from the coconut tree. Like honey, it contains small amounts of vitamins & minerals and it also triggers a delayed insulin response, giving the body more time to respond to the sugar. You’ll still want to read the label though, as sometimes coconut palm sugar is mixed with cane sugar.

Everyone should really care. A recent study shows that increase in sugar intake is more dangerous than increase in fat intake. We even ditched white table sugar years ago and used brown sugar from sugarcanes instead since they contained small amounts of vitamins & minerals.

Rebecca Lewis MS RDN says:

Hi Tim,

I couldn’t agree more! Be on the lookout for updated nutrition labels which will show “added” sugars in any food items that require a label. Manufacturers will need to use the new label by July 26, 2018.

B says:

Great post! I haven’t searched the site yet, but it would be nice to have an expert weigh in on dried fruit versus fresh mostly because my Dad eats dried fruit like candy (it kind of is candy), and I keep warning him it is chock-full of sugar. I’d like to be able to show him something that explains it.

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