Humans love sugar. Since the dawn of man we’ve been drawn to sugary foods as a simple form of energy; evolving to convert it to fat for times when food was scarce. A whole industry has risen up around sugar. We crave it. We’re literally addicted to sugar.
The presence of sugar alone isn’t bad for you. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, dairy, some grains, and other unprocessed foods.
We’ve gone overboard, though. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 38 grams (150 calories) of added sugar per day for men and 25 grams (100 calories) per day for women. Guess what? A single 12-oz can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories from sugar.
Added sugar, or non-naturally occurring sugar, is the real culprit. According to Sugar Science, Americans eat 66 pounds of added sugar every year! This overload of sugar has led to an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and more.
It’s almost impossible to avoid sugar with the influence of the modern food industry. It’s too easy to make things more enticing by sneaking in some sugar, but does sugar by any other name taste as sweet? It sure does.
How about a vague scientific name:
- Diastatic malt
- Ethyl maltol
Or how about some liquid sugar:
- Agave nectar
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown rice syrup
- Carob syrup
- Corn syrup or HFCS (A vague abbreviation of high-fructose corn syrup.)
- Golden syrup
- Simple syrup (A common cocktail ingredient. One-part sugar, one-part water.)
- Sorghum syrup
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
Or we could just add another word in front of sugar to make it seem better:
- Barbados sugar
- Beet sugar
- Brown sugar
- Castor sugar
- Coconut palm sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Golden sugar
- Grape sugar
- Invert sugar
- Muscovado sugar
- Turbinado sugar
- Organic raw sugar (quick tip: Organic doesn’t always equal healthier.)
- Yellow sugar
And, finally, the just-plain-weird:
- Cane juice crystals
- Evaporated cane juice
- Florida crystals
- Fruit juice concentrate (That’s right. All that remains when you remove the water from fruit is sugar.)
Whether it’s syrup, nectar, crystallized, or a vague chemical name, the food industry finds many ways to sugarcoat the amounts of sugar present.
How to Be Healthy In a Sugar-Filled World:
- Stick to whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
- Check out the modern food pyramid. Harvard has refined the USDA’s “healthy eating plate” but states that theirs is “based exclusively on the best available science and was not subjected to political or commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists.”
- Exercise. Burning calories will never go out of style. Whether you’re involved in a sport or have a regular running regimen, focusing on your health will not only burn off those sugar calories but make you more resistant to disease overall. So, strap on your running shoes and jump on the treadmill to get as far from those added sugars as you can.
Whatever you do, keep in mind the list above and remember: Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean it’s good for you.