On average, an individual having three square meals a day consumes up to 148 grams of sugar. Today, sugar is a pervasive element of our diet in spite of it being linked to various heart diseases as well as an increased risk of diabetes. The World Health Organization recommends cutting down on sugars to not more than 5% of total daily calorie consumption, or a few teaspoons in contrast to the excessive amounts the average individual tends to consume on a daily basis.
Sugar is basically a carbohydrate in a crystalline form that acts as a sweetener. Different types of sugar include glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, and fructose. Naturally occurring sugars like glucose, fructose, and lactose can be found in fruits and vegetables. However much of the food we consume today contain copious amounts of sugar additives.
Sugar has been cited as the reason for many health problems. Studies suggest that added sugars might affect blood pressure and the risk of severe cardiovascular issues. Sugar additives contain no nutrients and are mostly empty calories leading to sugar being linked with obesity. Further, sugar has a detrimental effect on the teeth as it leads to the growth and proliferation of bacteria in the mouth. It can also lead to non-alcohol related fatty liver disease as the fructose in sugar is usually turned into fat in the liver. This fat can get accumulated and lodged within the organ, thus having a negative effect on it.
However, cutting out sugar completely from our diet may be difficult, if not impossible. Sugars occur naturally in a wide range of foods from eggs to nuts and dairy products. Sugar, taken in moderation, can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. Studies have shown that our brain has a preference for sugar as fuel and thus there is a role for sugar in our diet. The American Heart Association recommends that women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, while men may consume no more than 9 teaspoons. While sugar can be an important part of our diet, we tend to consume it in excess.
There are many tips provided by the American Heart association to reduce sugar intake. You can begin by replacing beverages containing added sugars with low-calorie drinks. You are also recommended to reduce the amount of sugar in dessert recipes by about a third and replace sugar with cinnamon, ginger, or other spices.
We as individuals need to realize the harm that sugars can cause us and work towards reducing sugar consumption and living a healthier life with a more nutritious and balanced diet. Taking it in moderate amounts can actually energize the body and provide instant calories. So remember to be moderate in your dietary choices. Dr. Karthik Prabhakar of Manipal Hospitals believes in the idea of ‘Choose carefully what you eat, for you are what you eat!’.
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