Let’s face it, it’s hard to champion sugar. While our bodies derive energy from sugars in the form of
carbohydrates, which turn into glucose or blood sugar, added sugars, in the form of sucrose, aka traditional sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, should only be an occasional treat in a healthy diet.
The reason, of course, is the link between sugar consumption and diseases like type II diabetes and obesity, which are growing problems in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.7 million people were diagnosed with type II diabetes in 2012 and the rate of new diagnoses is
on the rise, and a recent report in
JAMA Internal Medicine confirms that Americans with obesity now outnumber those considered “merely overweight.”
Major factors in type II diabetes prevention are diet and exercise, with extra emphasis on
diet. Even city governments are getting into the game. In 2013, New York City tried an
unsuccessful ban on the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces. Recently, it was
reported that the city of San Francisco had “tentatively” approved putting warning labels on sugary drinks and would ban sugary-beverage ads on city-owned property. The local government would also no longer buy sweetened beverages.
Oh, but Americans love sugar. While the latest dietary guidelines suggest that added sugars should only make up 10 percent or less of daily calorie intake, it’s estimated that the average American derives at least
16 percent of their daily diet from added sugar.
Avoiding added sugar can be tough, however. It hides in all kinds of things, from the obvious (sodas and junk food) to the
less than obvious (ketchup, peanut butter and some yogurts).
sodium, the best approach to keep your sugar intake low is to avoid added sugars while deriving the majority of sugars from whole food sources, such as fruit. Keep consumption of prepared and processed foods to a minimum, read labels and try out these recipes to indulge your sweet tooth without too much guilt.
The Greenest Smoothie (Courtesy of Epicurious): This smoothie is full of good-for-you greens, such as kale and parsley, with added sweetness from bananas, pineapple and agave syrup, and a little kick from peeled ginger and green tea powder (matcha).
Berry Striped Pops (Courtesy of Splendid Table): A great way to beat the summer heat, these frozen treats are made with pureed fruit (strawberries, peaches and kiwi) and honey.
Fruit with Ginger Yogurt Sauce or “A Fruity Way to End a Meal": This simple concoction of fruit and yogurt gets an extra bit of sweetness from crystallized ginger – perfect for outdoor summer meals.