Sugar: How sweet it is

Everyone knows that sweetness comes from sugar. Most of us associate “sugar” with the plain, simple, white table sugar. There has been much in the media about the effect of sugar on inflammation, the basis for almost all chronic illnesses. And it is true. When you look at the food labels, it is hard to know how much of the sugar is in the natural form and how much has been added. Fortunately, that will change soon. The new food labels will be in effect in 2018.

Sugar by any name is still sugar. You may find it disguised as Agave nectar, concentrated fruit juice, evaporated cane juice, honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup. We now know it is important to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). So food manufacturers have found a way to attract the customers by advertising it on the front label. Many times though HFCS is replaced by other forms of sugar. Check this to learn more and be watchful when these appear in the ingredient lists.

Natural forms of “sugar” (carbohydrates) are in fruits (fructose), dairy products (lactose) and whole grains (starches). All forms of carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the body. When the carbohydrates or sugars are accompanied by fiber or protein the absorption of glucose in the body is slower. Choosing fiber or protein rich carbohydrates (whole grains, fresh fruit, low fat dairy) is the healthy option. Natural sugars or complex carbohydrates thus are not the harmful ones. Look out for the “added sugars” coming soon to a new and improved Nutrition Facts label on the supermarket shelves.