Have you ever wondered why so many diets are concerned about sugar nutrition? After all, it's a naturally occurring substance that we need, that makes things taste good, and that makes us feel good. What could be so bad about sugar? Take a look at the food nutrition label on your bag of sugar. Most brands of sugar have 10-15 calories per teaspoon for a total of 30-45 calories per gram. That may not sound bad, especially since none of those calories are from fat, but scroll down the chart and you'll see that the only nutrient that sugar contains is sugar itself.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The good news is that sugars that occur naturally in dairy foods and fruit are essentially freebies. These sugars do all sorts of wonderful things for our bodies. The bad news is that many processed foods now contain added sugars that our bodies not only don't need, but that they may even have trouble metabolizing properly.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released statistics that showed that sugar intake represented 16 to 20% of the calories consumed in the average American's daily diet; the recommended sugar intake is less than half that—only 6 to 10%! The very same people are consuming an average of 20 teaspoons of processed sugar per day. You're probably doing it without even realizing it; when you drink a soda, when you add brown sugar to your yogurt and even when you eat certain nonfat foods.
Sugar nutrition should be especially important to women with a predisposition for diabetes or heart disease, as excessive sugar intake can increase the risk of developing either of these conditions.
If you crave something sweet and caffeinated, try a diet version of your favorite soda or go for tea instead. And if you need a quick but healthy energy boost at work, why not grab a handful of fresh grapes or strawberries? In the long run, slow-burning complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables will give you more energy anyway.
Even though sugar is delicious, it can be harmful to your body if consumed in excess. Consider healthier alternatives for a better lifestyle.