Friday, February 26, 2010
Natural Sugars are Still Added Sugars
Anyway I look at it, I have been eating too much sugar, albeit in the form of natural sugars. Women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons of sugars, and for men it's 9 teaspoons. Lucky I don't eat added sugars. At least that's the way I saw it, since my sugars are mostly natural and hardly processed.
My latest revelation is based on information I read in CSPI's Jan/Feb 2010 Nutrition Action Healthletter. The cover story is SUGAR OVERLOAD, Curbing America's Sweet Tooth. Read it!
I was happy to see my favorite subject broached, but I thought to myself, 'This doesn't pertain to me anymore. I quit sugar over two years ago.'
What I read, however, turned my perfectly ordered world of natural sugars upside down.
I was not ready to have over two years of my work be thrown out the window by one statement. "[Added sugars] include high-fructose corn syrup, ordinary table sugar, honey, agave syrup, and all other sweeteners with calories."
Then I discovered a list in the article that brought me to tears. The list titled, Sugar by Any Other Name, broke down what is considered an added sugar, which just made me grimace. Why? Because my beloved list of natural sweeteners that I held high and mighty and above all reproach found themselves in the same category as the horrible sugars that I have not touched in over two years. How in the world could my raw honey be rubbing elbows with corn syrup? Or table sugar even compare to grape juice? Were not my beloved natural sugars in an entirely different class because they're, er, natural?
Apparently, folks, my head has been in the clouds. I thought I had found redemption in honey and juice concentrates and maple syrups. The sad news is that these are added sugars. That's not an opinion. That's a fact.
And that, my friends, breaks my heart.
An added sugar is an added sugar, no matter what the source of that sugar is. The verdict is in, the science is clear, and the AHA is bold enough to tell us that unless we keep all of our added sugars in the 6-9 teaspoon range (9 for males, 6 for females), we may be headed for medical troubles including increased risk of heart disease, high triglycerides, diabetes, visceral fat, gout, overeating, high blood pressure and obesity.
Added sugars do not include fruit, dried fruit, vegetables and other whole foods.
I'm angry for giving natural sugars an exception in my kitchen and in my diet. I thought I was free to eat as much "sweet" as I wanted, as long as my sweet was natural and barely processed. Now I see that I confused science and philosophy. Because I believe philosophically that honey is a better sweetener than sugar (raw, local, not processed, etc.), I made the mistake in believing that it is healthier, too. It may or may not be healthier, (honey has about 300 more calories per cup than white sugar) but as far as all those medical diseases are concerned, I have to limit honey as much as I have to limit white sugar because they are both added sugars.
I don't want to play by the rules of the AHA (6 teaspoons, approximately 100 calories, is not very much sugar, especially if you drink sweetened beverages or alcohol), but I also don't want to be suffering from heart disease or diabetes in the future, trying to convince myself that natural sugars are off the hook.