Before I start demonizing sugar, I want to be clear about one thing, I am not against all sugars. Sugars found in naturally grown, whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables are not the enemy and those foods should not be avoided in your nutrition program because they have sugar in them.
That being said, PROCESSED sugar or refined sugar should be avoided and are not good for you. They are not a part of healthy eating in any way. Processed sugar can take many forms such as:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Brown sugar
- Cane sugar
- Cane juice
- And many more
So why should these be avoided? Let’s take a look!
The links between sugar intake and multiple health problems in the U.S. are growing every day. Below is a list of just some of the consequences of excessive processed sugar intake:
- Cancer…. studies have come to show us that cancer cells feed off of sugar, making cancer harder to fight against (Sharma).
- High blood sugar (or spikes in blood sugar)
- Raise blood pressure (hypertension)
- Negatively affect the heart and circulatory system (Johnson).
Sugar has also been under a lot of scrutiny surrounding the diabetes epidemic that we are having in the U.S. as well. Although the story is larger than just process sugar, it definitely doesn’t help the situation and absolutely shouldn’t be eaten if you are at risk of diabetes. In fact, I hope at this point you understand that healthy food prep and eating in general shouldn’t include processed sugars.
The hard part about avoiding sugar is that it is hidden in almost everything that is processed at the grocery store. Honestly, if the food is packaged, it probably has some level of sugar in it.
For example, many people think that good ol’ orange juice is healthy… right? Well, for the most part, no! The standard OJ in the store has been through too much processing and is void of most of its nutrients. Along with that, the amount of oranges that it takes to make a full glass of OJ is far more than most people would eat in one sitting, let alone one day. AND without the added nutrients you are essentially drinking a glass of processed sugar. Unfortunately, this goes for most fruit juices as well.
If you are looking for good juices, look for cold pressed juice. It will have been recently juiced and it is done in a way that saves the nutrients in the fruit or vegetable. But if it isn’t cold pressed, leave it behind.
Getting rid of all processed sugar is hard but something worthwhile. If you are just beginning to start weaning yourself off of sugar, avoid sodas, candy, and sweet desserts before anything else. In the end, don’t eat sugar that doesn’t come from a natural, whole food. If you are interested in learning how to do healthy eating the right way, check out our Consciously Nutritious program.
Johnson, Richard J., Mark S. Segal, Yuri Sautin, Takahiko Nakagawa, Daniel I. Feig, Duk-Hee Kang, Michael S. Gersch, Steven Benner, and Laura G. Sánchez-Lozada. “Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 86, no. 4 (2007): 899-906.