Written By Lewis Robinson / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that acts as a sweetener and is a staple in many of your favorite foods. While small amounts of sugar aren't detrimental to your health, large quantities can cause you to pack on the pounds and may even lead to health problems.
The risks associated with sugar consumption have led to a host of alternative products that promise to offer the same sweet taste, but without the calories. However, there is still some debate on whether these options are any healthier.
Sugar generally falls into three main categories. There is table sugar, artificially produced sweeteners, and natural sugars found in food and food products. Continue reading to find the answer to "What is sucrose?" along with suggestions on the best types of sweetener to use.
Common Table Sugar
Occasional use of small quantities of sugar shouldn't cause harm to your health or your waistline, especially if you are careful to choose natural sugars such as those found in fruit. The problem lies in the fact that sucrose, or table sugar, is added to so many common foods, even supposed healthy options like yogurt and granola bars.
This added sugar adds up quickly and can cause you to consume far more than you planned to or even imagined. It's essential that you check food labels to inform yourself on the amount of sugar contained in a product.
Large amounts of sucrose can contribute to health problems.
It is highly inflammatory and may contribute to issues with cholesterol, blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and more. Too much sugar will also cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash later, leading to highs and lows of energy throughout the day. Since added sugar is non-essential to the diet, it's best to limit your intake.
Many people have turned to use artificial sweeteners like aspartame to sweeten their coffee and even to bake with. As the health risks of too much table sugar started to become common knowledge, these types of alternatives have become greatly popular.
There are both benefits and potential concerns with artificial sweeteners. The biggest advantage is the fact that most synthetic options have no calories, making them a good choice for weight control. Zero calories doesn't necessarily translate to zero health risks.
Frequent and heavy use of these types of sweeteners have been linked to heart problems, gut health issues, and diabetes. They may also have a strong aftertaste that some people don't care for.
If you are going to consume sugar, the best kind is a natural form. There are plenty of options available. For a fast and healthy dessert, reach for some fresh fruit. You can top oatmeal with berries or add a handful to a smoothie for sweetness.
Honey, maple syrup, and monk fruit are commonly used in place of table sugar in many different foods. Stevia is made from the leaf of the stevia plant and is a popular choice. It can also be used in beverages and to bake with. Xylitol is an alcohol sugar that is another good alternative for baking and cooking.
The key when looking for these natural sugars and sweeteners is to watch out for processing and refining practices. These often change the nutritional quality of the product.
Some processes lead to a food being pumped full of preservatives and additives. In these cases, the supposedly healthy alternative may be worse for you than table sugar. Always read your food labels and pay attention to the source of the foods you buy.
It's also important to remember that while natural sugars are a healthier option, they still contain calories and should be consumed in moderation.
Choose your source of sweetener wisely and check the foods you eat for hidden added sugars. The more informed you are, the healthier your food choices will be. It's also a good idea to try to cut back on your use of sugar. Switch to healthier versions, but then gradually reduce your overall consumption. Your health will thank you.
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Lewis Robinson is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness. When he isn’t writing he can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.