From marinara sauce to peanut butter, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected products.
Many people rely on quick, processed foods for meals and snacks. Since these products often contain added sugar, it makes up a large proportion of their daily calorie intake.
Experts believe that sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and many chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
1. Can Cause Weight Gain.
Sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas, juices and sweet teas are loaded with fructose, a type of simple sugar.
Consuming fructose increases your hunger and desire for food more than glucose, the main type of sugar found in starchy foods.
In other words, sugary beverages don’t curb your hunger, making it easy to quickly consume a high number of liquid calories. This can lead to weight gain.
High-sugar diets have been associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including heart disease, the number one cause of death all over the world.
A diet high in refined carbs, including sugary foods and drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of developing acne.
These findings coincide with the theory that diets high in processed, sugar-laden foods contribute to the development of acne.
Though there are many reasons for this, there is a clear link between excessive sugar consumption and diabetes risk.
What’s more, prolonged high-sugar consumption drives resistance to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance causes blood sugar levels to rise and strongly increases your risk of diabetes.
Eating excessive amounts of sugar may increase your risk of developing certain cancers.
First, a diet rich in sugary foods and beverages can lead to obesity, which significantly raises your risk of cancer.
Furthermore, diets high in sugar increase inflammation in your body and may cause insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk.
While a healthy diet can help improve ur mood, a diet high in added sugar and processed foods may increase your chances of developing depression.
Consuming a lot of processed foods, including high-sugar products such as cakes and sugary drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of depression.
Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging. They appear eventually, regardless of your health.
However, poor food choices can worsen wrinkles and speed the skin aging process.
Advanced glucation end product (AGEs) are compounds formed by reactions between sugar and protein in your body. They are suspected to play a key role in skin aging.
Consuming a diet high in refined carbs and sugar leads to the production of AGEs, which may cause your skin to age prematurely.
AGEs damage collagen and elastin, which are proteins that help the skin stretch and keep your youthful appearance.
When collagen and elastin become damaged, loses its firmness and begins to sag.
In one study, women who consumed more carbs, including added sugars, had a more wrinkled appearance than women on a high-protein, lower-carb diet.
The researchers concluded that a lower intake of carbs was associated with better skin-aging appearance.
8. Drains Your Energy
Foods high in added sugar quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to increased energy.
However, this rise in energy levels is fleeting.
Products that are loaded with sugar but lacking in protein, fiber or fat lead to a brief energy boost that’s quickly followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar, often referred to as a crash.
Having constant blood sugar swings can lead to major fluctuations in energy levels.
To avoid energy drain level, choose carb sources that are low in added sugar and rich in fiber.
Pairing carbs with protein or fat is another great way to keep your blood sugar and energy level stable.
For example, eating an apple along with a small handful of almonds is an excellent snack for prolonged, consistent energy levels.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Excessive added sugar has many negative health effects.
Although consuming small amounts now and then is perfectly healthy, you should try to cut back on sugar whenever possible.
Fortunately, simply focusing on eating whole, unprocessed food automatically decreases the amount of sugar in your diet.
Here are some tips on how to reduce intake of added sugar.
- Swap sodas, energy drinks, juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer.
- Drink your coffee black or use Stevia for a zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
- Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh or frozen berries instead of buying flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
- Consume whole fruits instead of sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies.
- Replace candy with a homemade trail mix of fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips.
- Use olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings like honey mustard.
- Choose marinades, nut butters, ketchup and marinara sauce with zero added sugars.
- Look for cereals, granolas and granola bars with under 4 grams of sugar per serving.
- Swap your morning cereal for a bowl of rolled oats topped with nut butter and fresh berries, or an omelet made with fresh greens.
- Instead of jelly, slice fresh bananas onto your peanut butter sandwich.
- Use natural nut butters in place of sweet spreads like Nutella.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages that are sweetened with soda, juice, honey, sugar or agave.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients.
In addition, keeping a food diary is an excellent way of becoming more aware of the main sources of sugar in your diet.
The best way to limit your added sugar intake is to prepare your own healthy meals at home and avoid buying foods and drinks that are high in added sugar.