Monday, May 13, 2013

Not reaching your goals? This may be the culprit.

Sweet and Toxic: Sugar

Sugar is so sweet, yet so bad for you! In todays grocery stores it's really hard to distinguish what has it and what doesn't. Hopefully after reading this article, you will become more aware of what role it can play in your health. Sugar in all its shapes and forms from refined sugar to high fructose corn syrup is bad for you! Sugar plays a large role in contributing to diseases including type II diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.

Intake of sugar has long been a problem for Americans. In fact, in the 1970s sugar was considered to be the source of an American public health crisis. Since the days of this health crisis, sugar intake has significantly declined. However, the diets of many Americans are now filled with processed foods, which are often packed with artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. Whether you sweeten foods and drinks with sugar or artificial sweeteners, the result is the same: they are both bad for you.

Researchers indicate that 16 percent of daily total caloric intake comes from added sugar. This sugar may some from sports drinks, sodas, cakes, cookies, ice creams and candies. While these foods may taste great, they provide very little nutritional value.

This doesn’t mean you need to eliminate all sugar from your diet. Some experts argue that it is not necessarily the sugar itself that causes health problems, but the large doses of sugar Americans consume on a daily basis. 
As of 2012, the American Heart Association intakes that women can consume up to 100 calories of day in sugar and men can consume about to 150 calories per day in sugar. Just like most foods, moderation is key!

Easy Ways to Cut the Sugar:

Whether you are a soda-addict or just can’t live without your daily cup of coffee, sugar can be dangerous to your health. Excessive sugar intake can lead to obesity as well as a host of obesity-related health ailments.

Here are some quick and relatively easy ways to reduce your sugar intake:

·    Skip the soda. Instead of reaching for a sugary beverage, stay hydrated with some water or an unsweetened iced tea. For a splash of flavor, slice up some fresh fruit to add to your drinks. I'm  If you aren’t quite ready to ditch the soda completely, start by replacing one can or glass of soda a day with water. Eventually, you’ll be able to give up this unhealthy beverage all together!

   Re-Define dessert. Instead of reaching for cookies or cake after dinner, think of healthier alternatives. Reach for fresh or frozen fruits.
·         Moderation, moderation, moderation. Remember, moderation is key. If you cannot completely give up sweets, enjoy them in smaller portions. Opt for a small dish of ice cream, one cookie or a small piece of chocolate in order to satisfy your sweet tooth. Plain greek yogurt with frozen blueberries and a little stevia is my personal favorite! :)

    Learn your nutrition label lingo. For the most part, we all know and understand what types of beverages, foods and goodies contain sugar. It is a given that dairy products, bakery items, condiments, yogurt, dressings and more contain sugar. If you see any of the following terms on a nutrition label, know that sugar is added: high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose.

Sucrose: Sucrose is table sugar. With 16 calories per teaspoon, sucrose is natural found in fruit, added to bakery items, jams, marinades and salad dressing. Sucrose can offer you energy but had no nutritional value.

Acesulfame Potassium (Sunett, Sweet One): Acesulfame Potassium contains zero calories and can often be found in soda, gelatins, gum and frozen desserts. This artificial sweetener, that contains no nutritional valie, was the first artificial sweetener to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Approved in 1988, Acesulfame Potassium has a clean track record. Although, some studies have linked this substance to cancer in animals. However, it is important to remember than animal studies do not always translate to humans.

Agave nectar: Agave nectar is often found in teas, yogurts and cereals. It contains 20 calories per teaspoon.  The nectar is a product of the agave cactus. It has a similar taste and texture to that of honey. Studies show that agave nectar contains more fructose than table sugar. As a result, it is less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar. However, this substance is more likely to reduce your metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

Aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet): This artificial sweetener is found in gums, drinks, yogurts and even cough drops. Aspartame contains zero calories. This sweetener is one of the most studied and perhaps the most controversial. It has been blamed for everything from weight gain to being a cancer causer.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: This sweetener contains 17 calories per teaspoon and is often found in soda, cereals and desserts. This popular sweetener contains the sugars from fructose and glucose, which are processed from corn syrup. This product is cheaper than sucrose and has a longer shelf-life. Studies indicate high fructose corn syrup is more likely to lead to obesity than sucrose. As a result, it’s best to limit your consumption. 

Stevia is a South American herb used as a natural sweetener for centuries. The leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant have a refreshing taste, zeroglycemic index, zero calories and zero carbs. It is 25-30 times sweeter than sugar, and far more healthy! This is what I use to sweeten my coffee/tea, etc. You can also bake with it. Most stores carry it and you can purchase in liquid or powder form.

Knowledge is power! Cut out the sugar in your diet and watch the pounds come off. It may be what's holding you back from reaching your fitness goals.
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