BUT......Did you know you are eating way more sugar than you think you are?
The US population on average is consuming approximately 15 teaspoons (60 grams) of added sugar per day. Alarmingly, we are consuming between 10 and 25% or more of our total daily calories from added hidden sugar.
Children are even getting fatty liver disease now. This recent study showed children drastically lowered the amount of fat and inflammation in their livers by cutting soda pop, fruit juices and other foods with added sugars from their diets.
If they know it's unhealthy, why does the food industry put so much sugar in everything?
Because they want to make money by selling their products and they know that sugar is addictive. The food industry hires hundreds of chemists, physicists, and neuroscientists to make sure you grab that granola bar or extra cookie. For this article, I will call them "sugar scientists." They even have their own language when they are evaluating their sugary concoctions. They talk about "mouth feel" and "maximum bite force," "sensory-specific satiety," (which is how fast a snack loses its appeal as it's being consumed).
The bliss point:
The food industry uses a phrase called the bliss point. Every sugary snack has to meet the "bliss point" criteria to make it from the laboratory to the grocery store. The sugar scientists' experiment with their formulas until they hit the perfect ratio of just enough sugar to make people want more, but not too much to make people think it's too sweet. That is called the bliss point.
I think it's important to understand that sugar is not helpful for good, long term health. Sugar in any form will raise blood sugar and cause a massive spike in insulin. Sugar is sugar is sugar, however, you name it. Lactose (milk) and fructose (fruit) are just as dangerous as table sugar (sucrose). They all raise your insulin. Food manufacturers try to sneak sugar into everything they can. They call it different things to confuse the consumer. There are about 56 different names for sugar and 68% of all barcoded food sold in the US has added sweeteners.
Don't fall for the labeling on the package that says "natural" or "healthy" or "low fat". Obviously, anything called sugar, sucrose, glucose, fructose, anything that says syrup, juice or crystals, molasses, caramel, maple syrup, sucanat, barley malt, dextrin, dextrose, ethyl maltol, lactose, maltose, agave nectar, maltodextrin. Natural agave sugar or organic honey is no better than table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Sugar alternatives, while they might not raise your blood sugars, will still cause an insulin spike. It's like your body tastes sweetness so it releases insulin in preparation for the sugar it thinks it's getting. In this study on artificial sweeteners, participants that took sucralose (Splenda) showed a 20% increase in insulin secretion. Even though they are calorie free, artificial sweeteners react with receptors on the tongue that make people think they are consuming something sweet. Research has even shown that the gastrointestinal tract and the pancreas are capable of detecting sweet foods and drinks and respond by releasing hormones, such as insulin. Artificial sweeteners can adversely affect metabolism even in small amounts.
Scientists have also found that artificial sweeteners damage the beneficial bacteria in the stomach. Natural sweeteners like Stevia and Monk are probably the healthiest, but some think they have an odd aftertaste. I personally use Xylitol, it's a sugar alcohol with a very low glycemic index. Yes, I know it causes an insulin spike, but I have had success using it and it's about the closest tasting to real sugar that I have found. The only downsides are it can cause slight digestive problems in some people.
Also, Xylitol's sweetness level is about equal to real sugar, so in recipes, you can swap it out in an equal 1:1 ratio. Xylitol contains just 3 calories per gram and 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon. But, all the carbohydrates from sugar alcohols aren't fully digested.
As a comparison, glucose has a glycemic and insulin index of 100 each.
Here is a list of sugar alcohols and their glycemic and insulin index values:
- Erythritol: Glycemic index 0, insulin index 2
- Isomalt: Glycemic index 9, insulin index 6
- Maltitol: Glycemic index 35, insulin index 27
- Sorbitol: Glycemic index 9, insulin index 11
- Xylitol: Glycemic index 13, insulin index 11
Curious about how healthy fruit sugar (fructose) is?