We’ve all heard the hype about quitting sugar – that’s because too much of the sweet stuff had been linked to health concerns including heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer – not to mention the effect on our teeth. But if you already have a sweet tooth, giving up sugar is easier said than done. If you don’t think you can quit – or if you just don’t want to – there are ways you can adapt your diet to lesson the health risk.
THE NOT-SO-SWEET STUFF
‘Eating too many carbohydrates, particularly simple or refined sugars, can be harmful to blood glucose control, especially if you are insulin resistant, experience [low blood sugar] or have diabetes,’ says Robbie Clark, dietician and co-founder of thehealthclinic.com.au. Added sugar contains large amounts of fructose. ‘When too much fructose enters the liver, most of it gets turned into fat. High sugar in the liver can elevate cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.’ High sugar can lead to nutrient deficiencies, as it can prevent the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
BAD VS GOOD
‘When any type of sugar is added to foods during processing, manufacturing, cooking or at the table, you consume calories without fibre or nutrients. This type of sugar is called “added sugar” and is considered to be “bad” sugar,’ Robbie says.
Foods that contain sucrose (table sugar) or high fructose corn syrup, such as jams, cereals, confectionery, soft drinks, baked goods, ice-cream and flavoured yoghurt.
Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and wholegrains that contain simple sugars.
‘When simple sugars are naturally found in whole food, they contain vitamins, minerals, protein, phytochemicals, fibre, and antioxidants,’ Robbie says. ‘The presence of fibre slows down the absorption of sugar, which moderates its impact on blood sugar. So the natural sugar in whole food such as lactose [found in dairy] and glucose is considered “good” sugar.’
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