The amount of sugar the average person consumes on a daily basis is a serious problem. The even bigger problem is that the majority of these people aren’t even aware of what they’re doing. Unless you’re serious about your diet and what you’re putting in your body, these days, you can pretty much guarantee anything you eat is 95% sugar.
OK, that may be a bit dramatic, but let’s take a look at things honestly here.
What is Sugar?
Right off the bat, it’s important to know that not all sugar is bad for you. As with most things, natural is the way to go, and fortunately, this makes it really easy to know which foods you should be including in your diet and which you shouldn’t even really consider as food at all. Anything fresh and real – fruit, vegetable, anything without a label on it pretty much – is safe. Anything packaged, bagged, frozen, (you get the idea), you need to be careful with. In these types of food, there is often added sugar as one of the main ingredients, which is not at all natural and which is certainly not good for your body. Let’s talk more about the two different types of sugar: naturally occurring sugar, and added or refined sugar.
Naturally occurring sugar is, as the name implies, naturally found in certain foods. Bananas, peaches, prunes, honey; naturally occurring sugar – in moderation, as with anything else, of course – is part of a healthy, balanced diet. This type of sugar is better for your body, and the food its found in also offers other health benefits (whereas foods with refined sugar added typically do not) – benefits such as fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Added sugar is very different. This type of sugar is not natural, and does not offer any sort of value to your diet. Added or refined sugar is full of empty calories, meaning you’re consuming it and it adds on to the amount of calories you’re taking in through the day, offers no nutritional value to your body, and can also result in a number of health problems. It’s bad for your teeth, it can cause damage to your liver, and can even contribute to the development of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Need another reason to stop downing those donuts and energy drinks each day?
What Products Contain Added Sugar?
There is a ton of added sugar found in foods you may not expect. It’s not just the obvious cookies, cakes and pastries. Soft drinks, cereal, sauces like ketchup and barbecue sauce, flavoured yogurt, vitamin drinks; take a look at the label on these sorts of things before eating them, because you may be surprised at how much sugar you’re taking in.
Even just comparing yogurt from two different brands and you may be amazed at what you find. There can be a huge gap between the amount of sugar, even in identical products, simply from different brands. The same can even be said about the same product, from the same brand, just different flavours. Exhausting, right? Well, this is another perfect time to stress why eating fresh, real food is so much easier. Not more difficult. Easier. Snack on an apple or piece of avocado to get a sweet taste with natural sugar and avoid doing serious damage to your health or racking up a ton of unnecessary calories.
When you’re more aware of the different types of sugar out there and how each can affect you, you will notice yourself starting to pay more attention to things. Even if you’re not a calorie counter and you’re on top of your weight, it always pays to do a once-over of any labelled food before buying it. It’s always worth a glance just to know exactly what you’re putting in your body.