The Not-so-Sweet Side of Sugar | OSF HealthCare
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January 2023

The Not-so-Sweet Side of Sugar

Strawberries and winter squash are natural sources of sugar that not only taste good but provide important nutrients like fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants.

During processing, food manufacturers add other sugars to drinks, sweet snacks, and candy. Sugar is also added to improve the flavor of nutritious foods like low-fat dairy, whole-grain cereals, and vegetables.

Added sugars lack nutrients, and research has linked them to health hazards. Here’s why experts recommend cutting back.

Tallying the risks

Added sugars offer zero nutrition. The calories you consume would be better spent on foods rich in the nutrients you need.

Aside from cavities and acne, high intake of added sugars has been linked to:

  • High blood pressure

  • Abnormal cholesterol levels, even in children

  • Type 2 diabetes, at any age

  • Extra fat around the heart and other organs—a big problem for heart health

  • Some cancers, including colorectal cancer

Healthier ways to please your palate

You don’t need to purge your fridge or pantry. Going completely sugar-free may be unnecessarily strict. To start reducing the amount of added sugar you eat, try some of these tips:

  • Cook from scratch. Prepare your own versions of store staples, including pasta sauce, granola, condiments, and baked goods.

  • Hold back. Reduce the amount of sugar a recipe calls for by one-fourth. It won’t noticeably impact the flavor of baked goods.

  • Use the power of produce. Satisfy a sweet tooth with naturally tasty foods like bananas, apples, or sweet potatoes. They often work in baked goods or in dishes like oatmeal.

By cutting back on added sugars while prioritizing fresh foods, you can feed everyone—even the dedicated dessert lovers—with wholesome, delicious dishes.

 

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2021
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