2.53 WFPB – Why No Added Sugar?
In this HeartStrong.com video/article, lets talk about sugar. Why is avoiding added sugar important. Previously in the HeartStrong.com program we talked about sugar here. Sugar is a “simple carbohydrate” which has 4 calories per gram (compared to 9 calories per gram of fat). Pure sugar comes in at a whopping 1800 calories per pound, quite calorie dense.
Pure sugar has no fiber and pretty much empty calories. Meaning sugar does not give you any specific nutrition. Just calories without any fiber or filling you up. So any time sugar is added to a product it automatically increases the calorie density for no reason except for taste to get you addicted to the product making you more likely to come back again spending your money to buy the product again. Some studies show that 80% of products in the grocery store have added sugar making it hard to avoid. Sugar is hidden 61 different ways on ingredient lists making it difficult to spot.
Thus as you can see, the answer as to why we should avoid added sugar is easier than the oil issue. Having said that, sugar in small amounts does not really cause major negative health effects. The absolute key is “small amounts”. For many, eating a small amount of added sugar is impossible. Sugar is addictive. When consumed in large quantities, especially if physically inactive, excess sugar can lead to weight gain and has a small contribution (compared to dietary fat, the major problem) to the development of type II diabetes. Remember how diabetes is a fat problem and not a sugar problem that we discussed here.
The other major critically important factor to know is where the sugar is coming from. When we are talking about “added sugar”, this is just purified sugar used by the food industry to improve the taste of the food. Natural sugar that comes in foods such as fruits is completely fine and healthy in essentially any amount since it is coupled with fiber and so many other vitamins/minerals/phytonutrients important for good health. Have you ever heard of a person becoming obese eating too many apples? It simply does not happen.
The biggest issue with added sugar is the addiction potential, especially in our children. Research has shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Many people have a hard time limiting their sugar intake. Having only 1 cookie or 1 soda is impossible for many…better to just avoid it completely. This is quite apparent when looking at the childhood obesity epidemic in America.
There are plenty of natural ways to sweeten foods while sticking to a whole food plant based dietary pattern. The most common is by chopping whole dates and adding them into foods or using other fruits.
Completely avoid drinks with sugar not just including soda and sugar sweetened beverages, but also fruit juices which is essentially sugar from fruit with the fiber and many of the nutrients removed. Look at labels and you will be surprised to find added sugar in almost every product in the store. This is why buying food from the produce department that does not requite ANY label is always the best choice for your health.