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Nutritionally-rich Carbohydrates vs Refined Sugar

from Global Health & Fitness - an award winning, results-based online fitness program

There are two main problems with consuming too much sugar: it adds up quickly to a lot of calories consumed and it contains very little nutritional value. People who replace nutritionally-rich carbohydrates (grains, beans, potatoes, vegetables, etc.) with refined sugar are getting poor nutrition. And those who eat foods high in sugar are likely to gain weight from the extra calories, as well as sugar’s propensity to be easily converted to fat (by raising insulin levels).

The calories and total grams of carbohydrates from foods high in sugar add up more quickly than those from potatoes, beans, rice, veggies, and other carbohydrates because:

  • Sugar is a very concentrated source of carbohydrate - so it's easier to eat more calories.
  • Sugar has a very pleasant taste - it is easily overeaten out of enjoyment and often used for comfort.
  • Sugar keeps bad company. Many foods high in sugar are also high in fats, such as pastries, cookies, ice cream, and other sweets.
  • Sugar is often consumed as beverages - sodas, juices, punch, etc. A large soda can contain more than 300 calories alone!

It is important to recognize that all caloric sweeteners including fructose, honey, and many others are sugars too. The sugar amount may or may not be revealed in a food products ingredient list. But if you look at the ingredients, and one of the many forms of sugar is the first ingredient, you'll know that this is the primary substance in that product and thus does not provide a good source of nutrition. Also, be on the look out for several different forms of sugar listed separately, such as cornstarch, sucrose, and high-fructose corn syrup.

Also note that even though sugar is the main ingredient of the product, it may not appear first or even second on the ingredient label. Rather it may be included several times throughout the list in different forms. The following is a list of other forms of sugars that you should be aware of when reading labels: brown sugar, confectioners sugar, corn sweeteners, turbinado, raw or white sugar, molasses, maple sugar, maltose, levulose, lactose, invert sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, granulated sugar, fructose, galactose, glucose, and dextrose.

A diet lower in sugars and higher in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein is almost always lower in fat, lower in calories, higher in energy, and higher in vitamins and minerals. These factors, working together, contribute to a lower rate of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and tooth decay.
Its okay to eat sugar as a treat, but do so in moderation.

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