Sunday, May 22, 2011

How Sweet It Is

Much of today's poor health and diseases that are so prevalent today can be blamed on an increase consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Because these exist in so many processed foods, it is sometimes very difficult to avoid them.

In order to successfully eliminate these from your diet, you must be aware of what is in the foods that you eat, how to read ingredient labels and what foods to eat instead. By decreasing your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake, you can lose weight and increase your energy. But the most important goal in eliminating these from your diet is to promote and increase your overall health.

Many people are spoiled by the convenience of processed foods and have a difficult time following a healthy diet because of the time it takes to prepare foods from scratch. It can also be less costly to purchase pre-packaged or processed foods and many families on a budget have this to deal with as well, not thinking of the long term cost of eating processed foods.

By eating natural whole foods, there isn't much need to worry about ingredients labels. However, if you find it necessary to eat processed foods, the following list of sugars will help you determine whether or not the product in question contains sugar or refined carbohydrates.

Dextrose, Fructose, Galactose, Glucose, Lactose, Levulose, Maltose, Saccharose, Sucrose, Xylose, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xytitol

Other sugars to be aware of include: Beet Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cane Sugar, Confectionary Sugar, Corn Sugar, Corn Sweetener, Corn Syrup, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Dextrin, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Granulated Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Invert Sugar, Isomalt, Malt Sugar, Maltodextrin, Maple Sugar, Maple Syrup, Molasses, Raw Sugar, Rice Syrup, Sorghum, Treacle and Turbinado Sugar

Another important ingredient to look out for is white flour. Although it’s not classified as a sugar, it’s a refined carbohydrate that’s just as unhealthy.

One of the worst culprits for hidden sugars are beverages such as soda, sports drinks, sweetened iced tea and most other flavored drinks. They are extremely high in sugar and should be avoided as much as possible. Even natural fruit juices that aren’t from concentrate and have no sugar added are still high in sugar.

Many people think that fruit juices are a healthy alternative to soft drinks. In reality, the benefits of the fruit are usually destroyed during processing therefore all that is left in the "healthy fruit juice" is the sugar from the fruit. The simplest (and healthiest) way to avoid sugar in beverages is to drink water instead. Although this can get boring, drinking water is an overall health benefit to you. It can be very refreshing to add some lemon or oranges slices to your water.

Artificial sweeteners are designed to provide the sweet taste of sugar that we all love, but without the negative impact on health. Unfortunately, these artificial sweeteners are often more of a risk to your health than sugar itself. Most artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame and sucralose, are synthetic substances that have been found to be toxic in many ways. They’re also known to increase appetite, which is ironic considering their popularity among people looking to lose weight.

The use of artificial sweeteners is often a case of trading one problem for another and is definitely not the path to excellent health. As long as you don’t have a serious condition that prevents you from consuming sugar, and as long as you live a healthy lifestyle most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying real sugar in moderation.

If you choose to eat processed foods that are advertised as sugar free or low calorie even though you should be eating whole foods instead, avoid products that have aspartame or sucralose listed in the ingredients. Also be aware of the brand names that these artificial sweeteners may also be listed under. Aspartame is commonly available as NutraSweet or Equal and sucralose is commonly known as Splenda.

A healthy alternative for artificial sweetener is stevia. Stevia is a natural herb based sweetener that typically doesn’t affect blood sugar and is a much safer alternative than aspartame or sucralose. It’s many times sweeter than sugar, so if you decide to try it, use it in very small amounts.

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