There is a lot of information out there about health and about sugar. What should we believe… what's really true? Let's address a few myths about sugar.
Myth # 1 – “I don’t eat too much sugar.”
75% of individuals in the U.S. are consuming too much sugar. If you think you’re a member of the other 25%, you may be surprised. One piece of white toast with jam, and one cup of coffee with a teaspoon of sugar contains over half of the daily recommended amount of sugar – and that’s only your breakfast!
Myth # 2 – “I know which foods have sugar and which don’t.”
Firstly, don’t let the name “sugar” fool you. Corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, maltodextrin, all are sugars and all should be avoided. Check your food and beverage labels carefully.
You may think sugar is pretty easy to spot, but think again! It's not only cookies, cakes, and donuts that diabetics need to watch out for. Sugar is lurking everywhere, and is difficult to avoid if you don’t know where to look.
Condiments like ketchup and BBQ sauce, foods like yogurt, canned fruit, and drinks like fruit juice and white wine are just a few of the hidden sugars that are probably in your refrigerator right now!
Myth # 3 – “I use artificial sweeteners, so I’m fine.”
Use artificial sweeteners with caution. Science is now showing us that artificial sweeteners could be just as harmful to the body as real sugar. Heck, some artificial sweeteners literally destroy your body from the inside out on a cellular level. Aspartame, anyone? Sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame are all names for artificial sugar and can wreak havoc in the body.
Myth # 4 – “My blood sugar seems fine today, I can have something sweet.”
Excess sugar doesn’t just affect your pancreas, insulin, and blood sugar levels. It triggers elevations in blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate, as well. Consuming too much sugar also increases risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and a host of other diabetes-related complications.
Myth # 5 – “To be healthy, you need to reduce the fat, not the sugar, in your diet.”
Decades ago, the sugar industry paid off Harvard scientists to lie about what roles sugar and fat play in your diet. Even though there was plenty of evidence to prove them wrong, these scientists chose to publish only the studies that supported their scheme.
Their goal was to reduce or eliminate the role that sugar plays in heart disease. They had to have a bad guy, so they suggested that fat played a bigger role than it actually does. Their review appeared in the highly trusted New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, promoting the misconception that fat is bad for health, when sugar is the true villain.
Today, 10% of people in the U.S. are addicted to sugar. The word addiction is no accident; studies now suggest that sugar induces a reward stimulus in the brain similar to that of illegal drugs. This makes the brain dependent upon sugar, and induces cravings, which in turn, feed the brain’s dependency on sugar. It truly is a vicious cycle.
Myth # 6 – “I’m diabetic, I can never eat ‘good’ food again!”
Completely untrue! There are endless foods and recipes that taste absolutely amazing and won’t raise your blood sugar. Instead of focusing on what you “can’t have,” think about how fresh, whole foods can benefit your health.
Take your favorite foods and recipes, and get creative with alternative ingredients and preparations. For example, instead of a piece of white toast with jam, try a slice of whole wheat toast topped with mashed avocado and an egg. Still delicious, but includes fiber, protein, and good fats!
Greek yogurt is an ideal swap in dozens of recipes! Instead of sour cream, try a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on tacos, use it to make Spinach-Artichoke Dip, or add it to mashed potatoes. In place of mayonnaise, fold it into chicken or tuna salad, or mix with a pouch of ranch dressing mix for a delicious salad topper or dip.
French fries, anyone? Yes, it’s possible! Root vegetables like rutabaga, turnips, and sweet potatoes can be made into fries just like white potatoes can. Slice them up, toss with olive oil and bake in the oven to crispy perfection.
There are many myths about sugar, and it can be difficult to know what information you should or should not believe. It all boils down to this – cut the sugar and eat real (good) food!