I can’t believe how often I hear the statement that sugar feeds cancer! Just today, I heard it again. For more explanation on why this is a misleading statement, check out Part I.
Here we are at Part II. This post should answer some questions such as, how much sugar is too much? And, what types should we be having?
What Foods Have Sugar?
There are many different types of sugar. I’m sure
you’ve heard the term “simple sugar” and “complex carbohydrates”. Both simple sugar and complex carbohydrate fall under the macronutrient class “carbohydrate,” or simply “carbs.” Grains, milk and yogurt, fruit, potatoes, corn
and legumes (dried beans and peas) are all types of foods that provide your body with complex carbohydrates.
You also get carbs from white sugar, brown sugar,
honey and syrups, which fall into the simple sugar category. I often include regular sodas and fruit juices in this category.
When it comes to simple sugars, there is not much difference between them. Chemically speaking, simple sugars are mostly glucose and fructose in various combinations. High fructose corn syrup has become a dirty word in many health circles, but the bottom line is that it’s not particularly worse than sugar or honey. Most people just eat too much of it. It’s probably a good idea to pay attention to all the sugars in one’s diet, rather than focusing on reducing just one.
How Much Sugar is Too Much?
Sugar itself is not bad. However,
too much sugar, without balancing it with other foods can cause our bodies to make too much insulin. To prevent this,
you shouldn’t eat too much simple sugar in your diet.
The key is moderation. “Moderation” is probably the most popular but least listened-to word that comes out of a nutritionists mouth! So here are some guidelines to help you determine if you are having too much sugar in your diet:
- Avoid concentrated
sources of sugar, such as soda and fruit drinks. The concentrated sources of sugar are the kinds that tend to promote disease. I recommend no more than 6 oz. of 100
percent fruit juice a day, but I prefer that people eat their fruit rather than drink it. Eliminating sodas and sweetened drinks can make a big difference in sugar and calorie intake.
- Limit your “treats,” such as dessert, to 2-3 times each week.
on whole, healthy, unprocessed food, including vegetables, fruit, whole
grains, legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), nuts, and seeds. These are the carbs that protect your body from disease.
- When you add sugar or other sweeteners to your food or drinks, use as little as you need. Many times we over-sweeten things out of habit, not because we need it for taste.
I have probably left some unanswered questions, so feel free to leave a comment and I will respond.
Don’t forget that carbs and sugars are only one part of your diet. It’s important to look at your whole lifestyle to make sure that you are promoting wellness and the best quality of life.
(Reference: Some information for this post came from Caring4Cancer.)
Julie, you said to cut out sodas, does that mean diet too? Just curious, because I thought I was doing well to stop drinking regular coke and switching to diet caffeine free.
Regular sodas usually have 45g of sugar per can. That amount of sugar is the same as 11 teaspoons of sugar. Diet sodas have 0g sugar. So drinking diet soda definitely keeps you ahead on the sugar intake.
There are a lot of different thoughts about artificial sweeteners. Most artificial sweeteners have been extensively tested and are considered safe. Personally, I don’t drink more than 1 artificially sweetened drink per day (usually, I don’t have more than 1/week but my personal guide is 1 or less per day). I don’t recommend that anyone drink diet sodas all day long, but for an occasional drink it’s fine. And definitely lower in sugar than regular soda.
The next post I will talk about what types and how much fluids we should be drinking. Hopefully that will help clear up your question too!
Thanks for the ideas and questions:)
Barbara Shorrock says
Your newsletter won’t accepy a Canadian postel code. Why not???
Julie Lanford MPH, RD, LDN says
Sorry about that. The postal code is not actually a required field. Many people skip over that part! But I’m happy to register you, if that’s helpful.