Added Sugars vs Natural Sugars: Do You Know the Difference?

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Most of us love a cup of coffee with creamer with a touch of sugar in the morning. But do you know how the added sugar in your coffee affects your health?

The American Heart Association states there are two types of sugars in our diet: naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.

Naturally Occurring Sugars

Naturally occurring sugars are found in all plant foods and milk in the form of carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, rice and milk are just a few of the foods providing the body with natural sugars. These sugars are the body’s primary energy source. Many of the body’s vital organs, such as the brain, need the sugars found in natural foods to perform their functions and sustain life.

Added Sugars

Added sugars are concentrated sugars that have been refined and added to foods and beverages to enhance flavor, as in the case of your morning coffee. Added sugar can be natural sweeteners such as white sugar, brown sugar, molasses and honey or chemically manufactured, such as high fructose corn syrup.

Carbonated soda makes up the bulk of where Americans are consuming added sugar in their diet. One 12-ounce can of soda has about 150 calories per serving! Other sources of added sugar include baked goods, candy, sweetened drinks and canned fruits in heavy syrup.

The danger of eating too much added sugar includes nutrient deficiencies, weight gain, tooth decay and the onset of diabetes and obesity. The high calorie count of soda, for example, offers little to no nutritional value. By comparison, an apple with naturally occurring sugar also provides the body with fiber and vitamin C.

The high rate of diabetes and obesity within the Latino community emphasizes the importance of understanding the difference between natural sugar and added sugar when making choices about what to eat and drink.

Take care of your family by making these quick and easy changes to reduce the amount of added sugars in your diet:
Replace sugar-loaded sodas with water
Read food labels and avoid those with an ingredient list that starts with a sugar or sweetener
• Give your child pieces of whole fruit instead of candy or processed cakes
• Phase out overly sweetened breakfast cereals for whole-grain cereals or oatmeal

The key thing to remember when looking at your food choices is moderation. Consider all of the food and beverages you consume in a day. How much of it has added sugar? By taking a closer look at your diet, you can see where you can swap out unhealthy foods for healthier options.

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