Sugar gets a bad rep. We've all heard how you're supposed to avoid it like the plague, but new studies suggest otherwise, depending on the type, that is.
Have you heard people bemoan how many grams of sugar are in a banana? Gone on super low-carb diets that restrict you from eating most fruits? Have you heard that all sugar is created equal?
This week, NPR wrote an article dismantling some of those beliefs. Here are the main take-away’s:
Carbs aren’t all bad
What a relief, right? According to nutritionist Lauri Wright, “Carbs are required for energy.” It makes sense when you think about it, but diets like the Atkins diet have taught us that carbs can translate directly into added fat on our bodies. Some people even claim that they want to cut carbs out of their diets entirely like Regina George’s unsuccessful effort in Mean Girls.
Not only is cutting all carbs out of your diet impossible, it would also be tremendously unsustainable. Have you ever tried a low-carb diet and felt extremely fatigued throughout the whole thing? Then you know first-hand how hard your body has to work when it’s not getting enough carbohydrates.
Fruit contributes to a lower spike in blood sugar
Sugars in fruits are less densely-packed than they are in candy bars, this helps to mitigate the spike sugar causes in blood sugar levels. Which means fruits won’t spike your blood sugar as much as sweets, proving that fruits are generally a much safer option to satisfy your sweet tooth for people suffering from diabetes.
Fruit has actual nutrients
In a Snickers bar or a can of soda, you’re not getting much more than the straight sugar and the calories (often a lot more calories than we need) from that sugar. With fruit, you get a lot more nutritional bang for your buck. Fruit provides essential minerals and fiber that can help with your digestion and overall health.
Candy, on the other hand, doesn’t do much for you physically. The nutrient-poor, calorie-dense nature of candy means that it can contribute easily to weight gain without ever making you feel full or satisfied.
Fruit isn’t all great, however. There are some caveats—dried fruits are more concentrated than ripe fruits and can pack more of a punch in the way of sugar-density. For someone with sensitive blood sugar or diabetes, dried fruit should be consumed with more caution than fresh fruit.
Fruit juices have a similar problem. Due to the fact that fruit juices are often extremely concentrated and can often be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, or other sweeteners, fruit juices can often masquerade as a health food while really functioning more like a candy bar, providing a high concentration of sugar and a lower concentration of fiber, minerals, and nutrients.
Unfortunately, smoothies can be plagued with the same concentration dilemma. One way to avoid this as Dr. Elvira Isganaitis, a pediatric endocrinologist at Joslin Diabetes Center and a Harvard Medical School instructor, advises is to add vegetables to your smoothies and use something other than fruit juice to provide the liquid needed in the smoothie.
We'll never truly be able to enjoy the epic amounts of sugar we want, but knowing the truth behind common sugar myths can steer us in the right direction.
*[image credit: pixabay.com *