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Natural Sugar versus Added Sugar

By Sara Butler

Ask anyone and they can tell you that excess sugar in your diet isn’t healthy for you. In fact, many fad diets have shunned it completely while the Food and Drug Administration has updated nutrition labels to reflect how much sugar -- and what kind -- is in the foods you’re eating. The new nutrition labels, which should roll out in the next couple of years, will reflect how much added sugar is in a food. But that begs the question of what added sugar is and how it differs from natural sugars. Here’s what you need to know!

Natural Sugar Defined

Natural sugars are sugars found in foods naturally. Fructose in fruit is a great example along with the lactose in milk. You should always watch how much sugar you’re consuming, whether it’s natural or not, but natural sugars are usually accompanied by other nutrients.

Added Sugar Defined

The Food and Drug Administration defines added sugar as added during the processing of certain foods. It can include sugar in the form of honey, concentrated fruit or vegetable juice, and syrups. It’s important to realize that there are more ways to add sugars to food than simply its crystalized white form, so you can be on the lookout for it!

Why Does it Matter?

Foods with natural sugars provide other important nutrients to your body such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. That means your body can effectively use it for fuel and absorb the other nutrients right along with it. When you eat foods with added sugars, that extra sugar does not contain any nutritional value, making it void of any benefit to your body. It’s simply excess calories – and empty ones at that. So read labels and watch for buzzwords that indicate when added sugar is present such as high-fructose corn syrup.

How Much Sugar You Should Have

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 13 percent of the calories in the American diet come from sugar -- added sugars, that is. The biggest culprits in diets? Sugar-sweetened snacks, sweets, and drinks. You shouldn’t get more than 10 percent of your calories from sugar. You have to find a way to balance the nutrition your body needs with your individual caloric needs. Eat your whole grains, protein, and vegetables first, then work in the naturally sweet stuff.

Try to limit the sugar you have in the interest of continued health and wellness! 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Glenview, Ill.

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