By Leila Rocha
Yeah yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard that sugar is bad for you, but it really is true! It’s not just any sugar (keep your berries and other fruit). It’s added sugar that is a major issue and it hides under suspicious names like corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, raw sugar, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, dextrose, brown rice syrup, coconut palm sugar, and barley malt syrup.
Many (including the US Department of Agriculture) suggest that your daily caloric intake be less than ten percent added sugar. Obviously, constantly over exceeding this can lead to more serious problems like heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes. Additionally, cutting it can aid in blood sugar regulation, and improve oral and heart health. Cutting sugar can even potentially lower your depression risk.
To pile on more benefits cutting sugar brings, it may make you look younger. We may not feel the need to look any younger now, but in the long run it can still help us out. MD Anthony Youn who wrote The Age Fix: A Leading Plastic Surgeon Reveals How to Really Look Ten Years Younger offers an explanation: “Sugar causes glycation, a process by which the sugar molecules bind to and deform the collagen and elastin [the main proteins keeping skin youthful] in our skin.”
Did you know that you also may get less colds eating less sugar? A nutritionist consultant in Kansas City, Kansas who wrote No Excuses Detox: 100 Recipes to Help You Eat Healthy Every Day informs: “You’re likely to have fewer sniffles year-round, and it may also help to reduce your allergy and asthma symptoms too.”
Of course too much added sugar leads to weight gain and even obesity, so you should at least moderate it if you’re not cutting it completely. An MS and registered dietitian at NYU Langone’s Weight Management Program, Leah Kaufan, says: “Sugar can be addicting, and when we decrease the amount that we eat, it also stops cravings, so we consume fewer calories and lose weight.”
After hearing all these positives regarding cutting sugar, you may be wondering: What can I replace sugar with? Well there are numerous options. Eliza Savage MS, RD, CDN and Anne Cook Carroll, MS, RD’s article “The 7 Best Sugar Alternatives of 2022, According to a Dietitian” details: “Non-nutritive (calorie-free) sweeteners include artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and plant-derived options such as stevia and monk fruit extract. Nutritive sweeteners, which do contain calories, include non-refined sugar sources like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.” Sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup are still added sugars, but they have health benefits such as offering antioxidants.
Some options of these sugar replacements include stevia and monk fruit (as mentioned previously) that are FDA approved and do not spike blood sugar and erythritol that also does not spike blood sugar. If you want something that you are probably more likely to have in your pantry, consider fruit purees like applesauce.
There is a takeaway when it comes to some sugar alternatives. For example, sugar alcohols can cause digestion problems as side effects. Also, you may just not like the taste. Regardless, you can still try to do the best you can with cutting added sugar. You can eat your favorite fresh fruits, or you can continue to eat added sugar, but cut consumption to once or twice a week. The point is, cutting added sugar has so many more benefits than having your diet overflowing with it.