For as long I can remember sugar has been considered one of the biggest enemies of society. You have probably heard it all. From, 'sugar causes heart disease', to 'sugar causes obesity and diabetes', we have been told our entire lives to avoid sugar at all costs. But what is sugar actually? In its molecular form, sugar is a carbohydrate molecule made up of several smaller molecules. Depending on the type of sugar these smaller molecules will vary, but our body will constantly break down these sugars into glucose. Glucose is one of the two energy sources our bodies use to fuel us throughout the day, with the other being fat. We are able to store fat long-term in order to ensure we always have energy reserves available. On the other hand with glucose (sugar), we are not able to store it long-term so our bodies are in demand for it every day to use as energy. Not to mention, our brains can only operate on glucose for energy and this organ is constantly working to control our nervous system and playing major roles in all of systems of the body. The elephant in the room becomes the question, how can sugar be so demonized when it is essential for survival?

The main difference you will see on the back of nutrition labels is 'added sugar'. This is sugar that is added into the food source as a sweetener, rather than sugar that is coming naturally from its pure form in the food. For example, if you are eating certain dried fruit you will see that some contain added sugar and others do not. When sugar is added to foods it will spike blood sugar higher than normal, which can lead to higher levels of triglycerides (fat) in your bloodstream. Studies have compared sugar vs. added sugar diets and have found that added sugars in the diet may create absorption issues for certain micronutrients that are essential in the foods we eat (1). Another study showed a correlation between added sugar sweetened beverages and weight gain in children (2). This can be due to the fact that if there is higher than normal sugar levels in our blood, our body will convert and store it as fat. If we are constantly taxing our body with these high levels of added sugar, we may be putting ourselves at risk of becoming insulin resistant, which in other words could lead to type II diabetes.



Please do not be afraid of sugar! As I said earlier, it is a nutrient that our body craves every day to use for energy. What some may not realize is that it depends on the quality and source of the sugar more than anything. The recommended daily amount for added sugar is no more than 100 calories of your diet (6 teaspoons) and unfortunately they have been demonized in recent years for their high amounts of sugar. As we have learned, there is a clear difference in added sugar vs. naturally occurring sugar. Fruits are not only some of the most delicious foods on the planet, but they are also highly nutritious. Certain vitamins and minerals in fruit are vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and more. Another difference between the sugar in fruits vs. processed sweetened foods is the fiber content. Fruits are high in fiber, which makes the digestion process of the food slower. When we digest foods very quickly without fiber (such as artificially sweetened foods) our blood sugar spikes much quicker and this is what can lead to insulin issues. So do not fear fruits! There is a reason they are perfectly sweetened and delicious; for us to enjoy and nourish our body.

Some of my favorite fruits include:

  • Pineapple:

  • High in Vitamin C, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Copper, and Manganese

  • Blueberries:

  • High in Vitamin C and Vitamin K

  • Contain high levels of antioxidant such as Anthocyanins

  • Cherries:

  • High in Potassium and Vitamin C

  • Loaded with polyphenols that act as anti-inflammatory properties

Applesauce Recipe:



This is a quick and simple recipe to turn all of these wonderful seasonal apples into your homemade applesauce (which will taste better than all store brands!)

Servings: 10

Prep/Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients: - 7 apples (cut into quarters)

- ½ cup of water

Directions:

1. Wash and then cut apples in quarters. Apples can be peeled, but fiber will be decreased.

2. Combine apples and water in a saucepan. Heat to boiling. Turn heat to low as soon as the water is boiling.

3. Simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the apples are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

4. Serving suggestion: add 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon and stir before serving.

References:

  • Added sugars. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars#:~:text=The%20American%20Heart%20Association%20%28AHA%29%20recommends%20limiting%20the,150%20calories%20per%20day%2C%20or%20about%209%20teaspoons. Published July 22, 2022. Accessed October 31, 2022.

  • Applesauce. MyPlate. https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/applesauce. Accessed October 29, 2022.

  • Louie JC, Tapsell LC. Association between intake of total vs added sugar on diet quality: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2015 Dec;73(12):837-57. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv044. Epub 2015 Oct 7. PMID: 26449366.

  • Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Aug;84(2):274-88. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/84.1.274. PMID: 16895873; PMCID: PMC3210834.


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