Quit Your Sweetness Addiction
Nutritionist Joy Bauer reveals the hidden sucrose content in your favorite foods, and offers healthier alternatives to help you break the habit
We've all heard that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” but did you know there's already plenty of the sweet stuff in that decongestant you are swallowing? And your spaghetti sauce? And even the canned veggies you feed your kids? Nutritionist Joy Bauer visited “Today” to share the scoop on sugar.
Carbohydrates include fruit, vegetables, starches (like bread and potatoes), and of course, sweet ole sugar. An essential nutrient, carbohydrates are the body's main source of both quick and sustained energy. All carbohydrates have “approximately” four calories of energy per gram of weight. As an example, one teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams and 16 calories and unfortunately, when eaten in large quantities, provides excessive calories that can ultimately lead to weight gain and other concerning medical issues. And it’s not just “sugar” that you’ll need to be aware of on your favorite food labels — you’ll need to also recognize the other forms, including honey, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice, dextrose, glucose, molasses, corn syrup, maltose, sucrose, xylitol, or mannitol.
Why worry about sugar? Aside from providing empty calories, one of sugar's major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level. An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body's blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Prolonged, elevated insulin levels can increase the risk for disease by causing inflammation within your body and by inhibiting key hormones that regulate the immune system. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat excessive sweets high in sugar, you're making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglycerides, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease