- Posted September 2, 2013 by
Tips to Avoid Simple Sugar
Simple sugars are carbohydrates, and can be found in a variety of different names on food labels. They are quickly digested and utilized by the body but even though they’re essential sources of energy for us, it’s important to understand that there are certain types of carbohydrates that are more beneficial to the body than others. Complex carbohydrates are a better choice for a healthy diet, as they take the body longer to digest and typically provide more nutritional value such as larger amounts of fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Alternatively, simple sugars cannot only negatively impact diabetics, but can also cause weight gain and unhealthy fluctuations in the blood sugar of non-diabetics. Avoiding simple sugars can aid in weight loss and improve general health. Avoiding simple sugars may also reduce a dietary intake of unhealthy fats and sodium without any additional effort. By learning how to identify overt and hidden sources and replace them with complex carbohydrates or healthier food choices, you can avoid a substantial portion of simple sugars in your daily diet.
Learn to identify simple sugars by name.
- Read ingredient lists and search for fructose, glucose, monosaccharides, lactose, maltose, and sucrose.
- Simple sugars may also be listed as raw sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, molasses, turbinado, maple syrup, sugar cane syrup, cane juice, invert sugar, malt syrup, and high fructose corn syrup.
- Some simple sugars are naturally found in fruits, milk and other dairy products, as well as in beer. Fruits, vegetables, honey, and milk products contain simple sugars but also provide nutritional value that is essential for a healthy diet. Avoiding products with added (non-natural) sugars should reduce dietary simple sugar enough for most people to allow moderate healthy simple sugar consumption via fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and a limited amount of honey.
Avoid candies, cakes, sodas, and other sweetened foods and drinks. Fruit juices, doughnuts, and flavored coffees are all common items that are usually filled with added simple sugars. Also, opt for yogurts that are not sweetened with fruit flavorings.
- Although 100% fruit juices can be okay in moderation, dietitians generally recommend that whole fruits be eaten instead of juiced or dried fruit. When buying canned fruits, avoid products canned in syrup; opt for fruits canned in 100% fruit juice (not concentrated) or water. Canned vegetables frequently contain added sugar as well, although many brands now sell a version with no added sugar.
- Desserts may be the most popular target for reducing your dietary intake of added simple sugars, but soda drinkers often consume more sugar from soda than from sweet treats. Switching from regular to diet soda can help resolve some of the health concerns with drinking soda.
Analyze the components of each meal to search for hidden simple sugars. Understanding the top contributors of simple sugars in a sample meal can help make the identification and avoidance of simple sugars much easier.
- For instance, in a breakfast of a honey and oat cereal with low-fat milk, a cup of berries, and a small flavored coffee, the primary sources of simple sugars to eliminate would be the sweetened cereal (avoid glazed, frosted, and sugary cereals) and the coffee flavoring.
- In a sample lunch of a white bread sandwich with lettuce, tomato, turkey, and brown mustard, a bag of cheesy corn chips, a glass of raspberry iced tea, and a cherry popsicle, the primary sources of simple sugars would likely be the chips, the sweetened tea, and the fruit-flavored popsicle, followed by the white bread and perhaps even the sweet brown mustard. A healthier option would include whole grain wheat bread, yellow mustard, unsweetened or diet tea, carrot sticks, and a sugar-free popsicle (or no popsicle at all).
- In a sample dinner of white rice, sweet and sour chicken, pineapple, snow peas, and a soda, the top simple sugar offenders would be the soda and the chicken’s sauce. Try drinking ice water, using a homemade garlic or white wine sauce for the chicken, and eating brown rice instead of white to avoid the vast majority of the meal’s simple sugars and to increase the nutritional value of the meal.