Sugars, The Good And The Evil
August 10, 2018 | Alison Stell
Sugar - is it good? Or is it evil?
If you’re like most people, you probably know sugar is a natural sweetener that usually comes from sugar cane production. This seemingly harmless white granular powder causes numerous problems, not the least of which can be obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and many other ailments. Sugar often hides where we least expect it, and usually, it can be substituted with something more healthful from nature that will offer the flavor you’re looking for. There are different ways that sugar is used, and different types of sugar in different kinds of foods and beverages. Let’s discuss which types of sugar are actually helpful to your body, versus which types of sugar you are better off avoiding.
Different types of sugars found in a variety of foods and beverages
Monosaccharides are known as simple sugars. They are soluble in water and require the least effort by the body to break down, meaning they are available for energy rapidly.
- Glucose — the body's main source of energy found in food such as pasta, whole grain bread, legumes, and a range of fruits and vegetables
- Fructose — this is the fruit sugar found in foods such as fruit, honey, and some vegetables
- Galactose — this is a component of lactose (also known as milk sugar), and can be found in foods that contain milk from mammals
Disaccharides consist of two monosaccharides, which are joined together. Disaccharides take longer to break down, therefore most of the digestion of disaccharides happens in the small intestine.
- Sucrose — known as “table sugar,” sucrose consists of glucose and fructose. It’s a common form of sugar found in sugarcane, some produce, and products which have been naturally sweetened
- Lactose — known as “milk sugar,” lactose consists of glucose and galactose. Lactose is found primarily in dairy products, but is often added to baked goods, candy, and other processed snacks.
- Maltose — known as “malt sugar,” maltose consists of two glucose molecules. Maltose is found in cereals containing barley and malt products such as malted milkshakes, candies, and even beer
There are also oligosaccharides and polysaccharides, which consist of combinations of three or more monosaccharides.
The challenge for most people is that in today’s world, sugars such as those listed above are being added to almost all processed foods. These are not naturally occuring sugars—they are added by humans during the processing and packaging of foods in factories across the planet. This is not just happening to everyday sugary foods like candy and cookies—different types of sugars have made their way into practically everything Americans eat today. Sugar is highly addictive, and food and beverage companies know this. They research just how much sugar people prefer in their processed foods to keep them buying more without being able to stop themselves due to their addiction.
What happens when we consume sugar
When you consume sugar, your body has two options on how to deal with it: Burn it for energy, or convert it to fat and store it in your fat cells. Depending on your genetics and age, your body might be likely to process sugar as energy, or you might be more likely to store it as fat. The longer that sugars sit in your fat storage, the more likely it is to create health complications. Consuming excess sugars for too long may contribute to an increased chance of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, macular degeneration, cancer growth, renal failure, chronic kidney disease, and high blood pressure. Sugars also feed the yeasts in our intestines, which slows down the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections. - Yikes!
So, should you eat less sugar?
Eating less sugar is winning only half the battle. Our bodies actually process certain types of carbohydrates in a very similar way to processing pure sugars. Believe it or not, there is a ton of scientific research on how our bodies process certain foods. This bring us to the Glycemic Index.
The Glycemic Index is the calculation of how quickly a particular type of food increases a person’s individual blood sugar level, on a scale from 1–100 (100 being pure glucose or “table sugar”). Harvard researchers found that things like bread, french fries, and other simple carbohydrates have nearly identical effects on our blood sugar as glucose.
Generally, the more refined or processed the food, the more likely it is that it will be converted quickly to sugar in our bodies.
But what about natural sugars, like fruit?
When you consume fruit, you are not only consuming fructose (in its natural state), but you’re also consuming fiber along with lots of vitamins and minerals. Consuming fruit can have an effect on your blood sugar, but generally, fruit will cause less of a blood sugar spike compared to sugars containing no fiber or nutrients, for example, table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
If the choice is between processed foods, sugary drinks, candy, or fruit, you’re better with fruit
Fruits with a lot of fiber like ENERGY DATES - Sukkari, are also less likely to give you that sugar rush and crash. This is because the natural dietary fibers found in ENERGY DATES - Sukkari and other date varieties help with digestion, and you will not be hit with all of the sugar from the date fruit at once, as you would with a sugary drink or candy, which contains no fiber. Fiber helps to regulate the amounts of sugar absorbed into the body, so that the excess won’t be stored in your fat cells. Eating dates allows more time for the vitamins and minerals to be absorbed into the body as well, which is extraordinarily beneficial!
All in all, it is best to stick with what’s natural. Even though fruit does contain sugar, it contains a lot of fiber, which slows down the absorption of sugars by the body. Dates also contain essential nutrients that your body needs, so it’s more beneficial than anything processed. Just remember, when it comes to making decisions about food, it’s best to keep it as natural as possible.