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The modern diet is very rich in simple sugars that come not only in the form of sweets and sugary drinks but also as additives to a variety of other foods. Should you be reducing your intake? And how?

We all know that snacks and foods like cake, desserts and ice cream are packed with sugars. But one thing many people don't realize is that our so-called healthier or reduced-calorie foods can be packed full of hidden sugars as well. Nowadays, processed sugar can be found in everything from cereals to sauces and from pickles to salad dressings.

You may cherish the feeling that you had a nice salad for dinner, but don't be fooled: the complimentary salad dressing probably had as much sugar as any sweet treat.

Excessive Consumption Of Sugar

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that sugar makes up five percent of your daily calorie intake. This is approximately 25 g for women (i.e. five-six teaspoons) and 35 g for men (seven-eight teaspoons). But a recent study showed that the average person consumes around 18-25 teaspoons per day in the form of soft drinks, fast foods and desserts. This very clearly exceeds the daily recommended limits.

No doubt, sugar is an essential part of your diet but we need to understand that it is present in healthy foods like vegetables (beetroot, corn, potato, etc.) as well as fruits (apples, banana, mangoes, etc.) in amounts which are probably enough to achieve our daily limit before even biting into a cupcake or taking in a chilled cola.

A study showed that one of the most commonly consumed forms of sugar is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), a cheap-to-produce sweetener that is found in almost all packaged foods and sodas. When consumed in excess, it may stimulate rather than satisfy one’s appetite. So in a way, your body actually craves for more food after eating sugar.

Sugar And Weight Gain

A lot of studies have validated the direct association between sugar, especially in beverages, and weight gain. Your favorite sugary beverages are full of calories but they do not improve satiety. Instead, they make us crave for more. The studies have shown a clear link between soft drink (also known as sugar sweetened beverages) intake and increased caloric content and body weight. A high intake of soft drinks and sodas also decreased the intake of milk, calcium and other important nutrients.

This extra sugar, which is not immediately required by our body, is converted into fat and stored around the waist or hip area. Many research studies (for instance, an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006) claim that high intake of sugary foods and beverages is the main cause of obesity.

Sugar And Diabetes

Apart from obesity, excessive sugar consumption has been linked to many other serious ailments like diabetes. High-sugar foods and beverages, once consumed, sharply elevate blood sugar levels in the bloodstream. The bigger the fluctuations in blood sugar levels, the higher the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In the case when someone is already in pre-diabetic state, it is definitely advisable to cut down on high sugar foods to keep the blood sugar levels in the healthy range.
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  • Photo courtesy of Vox Efx via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/vox_efx/2912195591

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