What Does Sugar Do to Your Body?


Sugar is a generic name for sweet-tasting carbohydrates. There are many sub-categories of sugar. These will be discussed in the next section. While sugar typically has a bad reputation, they actually have many positive benefits. For example, they supply energy to the body and glucose to the brain. Sugar also occurs naturally in many foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. We will discuss some healthy sources of sugar (carbohydrates). We’ll also find out their overall health benefits in this article.

Health Functions​

Sugars in general refer to a broad category of mono- and disaccharides. These sugars can be naturally found in foods. You can mostly find them in fruits, dairy products, vegetables, and nuts. Sugar refers to sucrose that is naturally occurring in green plants. Added sugars, on the other hand, refer to the sugars added during the processing of foods. These are sweeteners such as syrups, honey, and caloric sweeteners like table sugar. Natural sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruits or dairy products. These types of sugars have been linked to a higher risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases and diseases.

Sugars (carbohydrates) are the primary energy source of the body. Glucose is a simple sugar. They are especially essential to the central nervous system. We recommend getting your sugars in the form of complex carbohydrates. You will also be able to get other nutrients like fiber. Complex carbs have been shown to regulate blood sugar levels. It also improves digestion and keeps you full longer.

Disease Risk Reduction

The consumption of sugars (carbohydrates) is essential for one’s health. However, it should not be in the form of added sugars. Eating adequate sugars in the form of complex carbohydrates can help reduce bad cholesterol levels. This can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. For those with type 2 diabetes, consistent sugar consumption is crucial for blood sugar control. It also helps keep one’s diabetes in check.

Groups at Risk

Children are at a high risk of eating too much added sugar. This is mainly due to their common preference for sweet foods. Overconsumption of added sugar may affect proper growth and development. This is because added sugars are made up of empty calories. This means they provide a lot of energy (calories) through sugar but there is an absence of adequate nutrients in the diet. It also may lead to a lack of sleep in kids. This can further influence their concentration, productivity, and mood. Other research shows that too much added sugar may increase their risk for cavities and cardiovascular disease. It may also lead to developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Too much added sugar may also contribute to obesity. This is true for everyone, including adults. Those who consume too much added sugar are likely not getting enough nutrients. Because sugar contains a lot of calories, most people might not be able to burn it off. This leads to an accumulation of fat storage. Therefore, people will also be at a risk for obesity-related diseases.

Those with lower socioeconomic status may also be at risk of eating too much added sugars. This is especially true for those who live in food deserts. Food deserts are regions or places where people do not have a lot of access to healthy and affordable food. Healthy food that is a good source of complex carbs may not be available. They may opt to eat calorie-dense foods that are high in added sugars instead. Because of this, they are not getting the right amount of nutrients. They just eat enough to sustain their everyday tasks. These in turn will increase their risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, as well.

Intake Recommendations

A healthy American diet should consist of 45 to 65% carbohydrates daily. This equates to about 200 to 300 grams of carbohydrate per day. These carbohydrates should be from non-added sugar sources, such as complex carbohydrates. The American Heart Association suggests limiting added sugar to no more than 24 grams of sugar per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.

We recommend choosing healthier sources of carbohydrates when you eat. Dates are one such selection. It is a type of fruit that is an excellent source of natural sugar. Dates also have a low glycemic index (GI). This means that the sugar in dates is slowly digested and absorbed. Because of this, they can help control your blood sugar levels. They can also help keep you full for longer. Dates provide other nutritional values, like fiber, potassium, and copper. This makes them a great choice over other added sugars.

Conclusion

Sugar (carbohydrates) often gets a bad rep for being a food that we should avoid. However, sugar has many positive health benefits. This is especially true if they come consumed from natural food sources like dates. However, we recommend against eating too much added sugar. This has been shown to increase the risk of certain disease states like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It would be a good idea to focus on foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They will help you meet your sugar and nutritional needs each day.

Written by:

Allison Tallman, MS, RDN, CNSC

Registered Dietitian

Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian
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