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Published on July 29, 2015

Sugar cubes

Are you eating too much sugar?

The more we learn about sugar, the more we understand its connection to multiple health problems. But the problem is not that we are eating sugar. The problem is that we are eating too much sugar.

Sugar comes in two forms:

  1. Natural sugar (found naturally occurring in food): fructose (in fruit and vegetables), lactose (in milk and dairy products), and maltose (in grains, like wheat, barley, rye, etc.).
  2. Added sugar may come from a natural source, but is isolated from the natural food and added to something else.

Natural sugar is not the problem. With this type of sugar, also comes fiber and/or protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating food that naturally contains sugar takes longer to break down. The effect of that sugar is less pronounced and the food we eat it with provides nutrition and sustains our energy level and blood sugar.

Added sugar, on the other hand, is isolated. It is taken out of its natural form and put into something else or consumed on its own. And, added sugars are hidden in almost everything on the store shelves. This is where the problems lie.

Here is a list of added sugar's many aliases:

Sugar (brown sugar, corn sugar, cane sugar, cane juice, evaporated cane juice, cane juice crystals, beet sugar, buttered sugar, caster sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, demara sugar, golden sugar, invert sugar, muscovado sugar, organic raw sugar, confectioner's sugar, brown rice sugar, turbinado sugar, yellow sugar​).

Syrup (brown rice syrup, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, carob syrup, golden syrup, oat syrup, rice bran syrup, tapioca syrup, agave nectar/syrup, maple syrup).

Honey, molasses, blackstrap molasses, ​malt, barley malt, barley malt syrup, diastatic malt, panela, panocha, treacle, caramel, dextran, diatase, ethyl maltol, maltodextrin, sorguhm, sorguhm syrup​, fructose, crystaline fructose, fruit juice concentrates, maltose, lactose, glucose, sucrose.

If you lost track, that was 58 different names for sugar! Though some sound healthier than others, don't be fooled. It's all sugar and it's all too much.

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day and men no more than nine teaspoons. One teaspoon is approximately 4 grams of sugar. That equates to approximately 30-45 grams of sugar per day, for women and men, respectively. Though it sounds like a lot, the average American consumes three or four times that much. So take a look at the labels of the food you eat most often. How much sugar are you eating? Where can you cut back?

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Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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