RV Healthy: Sugar


Sugar and Artificial Sugar






Should we avoid sugar? Sylvia says, not necessarily! We discuss the health issues and alternatives to sugar

  • Sugar – Should you avoid it? Not necessarily.
  • Too much added sugar can lead to such health problems.
  • Artificial Sugar – Should we avoid it? Possibly
  • Sugar Alternatives!
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  1. Sugar – Should you avoid it? Not necessarily.

Sugar occurs naturally in some healthy foods. But it’s the added sugars in desserts, sodas, energy and sports drinks that are the top sources of added sugar in most American diets. Foods high in added sugar do little more than contribute extra calories to your diet — and often are low in nutritional value. They can also set the stage for potential health problems.

All sugar, whether natural or processed, is a type of simple carbohydrate that your body uses for energy. Sugar occurs naturally in some unprocessed foods that are staples of a healthy diet — fruits, vegetables, milk and some grains. Sugar in various forms that is added to foods and beverages is known as added sugar. Sugar is added to processed foods mostly for flavor, texture and preservatives in jams and jellied items.

Too much added sugar can lead to such health problems as:

Tooth decay. All forms of sugar promote tooth decay by allowing bacteria to grow. The more often and longer you snack on foods and beverages with either natural sugar or added sugar, the more likely you are to develop cavities, especially if you don’t practice good oral hygiene.

Poor nutrition. If you fill up on foods laden with added sugar, you may skimp on nutritious foods, which means you could miss out on important nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Regular soda plays an especially big role. It’s easy to fill up on sweetened soft drinks and skip low-fat milk and even water — giving you lots of extra sugar and calories and no nutritional value.

Weight gain. There’s usually no single cause for being overweight or obese. But added sugar likely contributes to the problem. Sugar adds calories to food and beverages making them more calorie-dense. When you eat foods that are sugar sweetened, it is easier to consume more calories than if the foods are unsweetened.

Increased triglycerides. Eating an excessive amount of added sugar can increase triglyceride levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease.

The American Heart Association has specific guidelines for added sugar — no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men. Most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons — or 355 calories — of added sugar a day, which far exceeds USDA guidelines and American Heart Association recommendations.

Sugar in packaged foods can have nearly 30 different words on a label. So pay attention to those words ending in “ose”……the most common being fructose, dextrose and glucose.

Artificial Sugar – Should we avoid it? Possibly

Sugar substitutes are not magic bullets for weight loss. Many are currently approved by the FDA such as the most common Aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet) and Saccharin (Sweet N’Low and Sugar Twin) and Sucralose (Splenda). These products are seen in many of the processed foods and can sometimes be an attractive alternative to those on a diet as they add virtually no calories.

Health Benefits are both weight control, do not contribute to cavities or tooth decay and of course, it’s a great solution for diabetics as it will not increase blood sugars (as they are not a carbohydrate).

Health Concerns are many and have been around since the 70’s. The most common concern is that artificial sweeteners can cause cancer as recognized in the study of lab rats. Other health concerns are headaches, gas, confusion and brain tumors. However, the studies also show with limited use this should not be a concern.

Animal studies have also shown that artificial sweeteners can trigger the release of insulin (smaller, however) which nutritionists worry about catering to the body’s craving for sweets which will only increase your appetite for them. This along with the health benefits should be a reason to stay away from or extremely limit your use of artificial sweeteners as a “diet” food.

There are many great natural alternatives to sugar such as honey, maple syrup, agave nectar and stevia to name a few.