Is Added Sugar Always Bad for You?

Sugar is everywhere in our society. Check the ingredients on any processed food, and you’re likely to find some kind of sugar. While sugar has come under a bad rap, you may wonder if all sugar added to food is bad for you. Should you avoid it altogether or can you occasionally indulge in a sweet treat?

What Is Added Sugar?

First of all, let’s define added sugar. Added sugar is sugar that has been added to a product that is not naturally occurring in that product. Examples of naturally occurring sugars are fruit and milk. Fruit contains fructose in it naturally, while milk contains lactose. These products have this sugar without any being added. However, sometimes sugar is added to these already sugary products—or even products you wouldn’t think would have sugar in them. Usually most products with added sugar don’t really need them.

How to Identify Added Sugar

Sugar can be deceptively hard to find in your favorite foods. Just looking for sugar in the ingredients isn’t enough. There are lots of pseudonyms for sugar. Here are just a few:

  • Agave syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Table sugar
  • Turbinado sugar

Why Is Added Sugar Bad?

The major reason added sugar is so bad is that sugar adds empty calories to your meal. That means that these calories don’t offer any nutrients with those calories. They pack on the extra calories without adding anymore to your body. You can quickly add up your calories with added sugar. If you count your calories, it may cause you to not get enough of the nutrients your body needs once you reach your calorie limit.

If you’re not counting calories, but keeping tracks of your needed nutrients, consuming foods with added sugar can cause you to eat more calories than you need—which leads to the excess turning into fat. This can lead to obesity and a bunch of other health problems.

In addition, sugar is believed to cause a number of health problems from diabetes to cancer. Talk to your doctor about health risks that sugar can cause.

Is All Added Sugar Bad?

Contrary to the belief that all sugar is bad, sugar has useful characteristics that can actually benefit your health. A little added sugar to something tart or bitter, such as a grapefruit, can make it easier to eat—thereby allowing you to get nutrients from foods you wouldn’t normally eat.

Added sugar itself is not evil. You just need to learn that everything needs to come in moderation. The recommendation is for only 10 percent of your calories come from sugar, so as long as you keep that your limit, you should be fine. In a 2000 calorie diet, this amounts to around 200 calories.

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