Sugar has been given a bad name recently, but it isn’t all that bad for you when you consume it in moderate amounts. However many people, particularly those eating a Western diet do consume far too much sugar in their diet. Most of this sugar comes from packaged foods and many people are not aware of how much is actually added to these products.
Those who are watching their weight should be very wary of foods claiming to be low in fat. When fat is taken out of food so is the taste. The way manufacturers will put the taste back in is to add refined sugar. Sometimes this can be a lot of sugar. Now these foods aren’t “bad” on their own, however if they become a regular part of your diet it may become a problem.
If excess energy isn’t burnt off it will be converted into fat. When sugar is broken down into simple sugars such as glucose, what isn’t used for energy is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When these storage facilities have reached their maximum the excess glucose is converted into fatty acids and sent off to be stored as fat. So this is why “low fat” labels may be misleading.
Another way to be aware of sugar in packaged foods is to learn the different ways in which manufacturers state sugar content on their labels. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity with the highest at the top. Often they will divide up the sugars into different names to make it look like there’s less than there really is. If they just state the sugar as one name on the label it might be at the top of the list, however if they break it down into multiple names the sugar will be further down the list of ingredients.
For example sucrose (table sugar) is made up of glucose and fructose. So on the label instead of having sucrose at the top of the ingredient list it could be broken down into two ingredients, glucose and fructose, and potentially be further down the list so it appears as though there is less sugar compared to the other ingredients.
Sugar has many names on labels which may be confusing. These include; dextrose, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, malt, maltose, lactose, brown sugar, caster sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar and sucrose.
Although refined sugar is not necessary in anyone’s diet, it is ok to include small amounts each day as part of a well balanced healthy eating plan, unless there are health reasons which prevent you from doing so. However it’s always good to be aware of other ways refined sugar can sneak into your diet and how it may be hidden in many packaged foods which often claim to be healthy.