Sugar fills our modern-day lives and plates with its sweet, delicious goodness. Despite its huge presence in our diets, sugar has some secrets. Most people know added sugar in things like candy and soda can cause tooth decay and a number of health problems. But you might not know sugar can wreak havoc on more than just your teeth.
Before you sprinkle that white stuff on your cereal, take a look at these seven things you didn’t know about sugar.
1) Added Sugar Hides in Unexpected Places
You expect to find heaps of added sugar in things like candy, cookies, and soft drinks. However, you don’t pick up a loaf of bread expecting to see sugar listed among the ingredients.
The truth is, food manufacturers add sugar to all kinds of products you wouldn’t normally think of as sweet. If you take a look at some ingredient lists on common items you buy at the store, you’ll likely find added sugar in peanut butter, ketchup, bread, yogurt, and even crackers.
Sugar also hides under different names, including evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, and barley malt. Among its many nicknames, almost any ingredient you see that ends in –ose is likely some form of sugar.
2) Added Sugar Causes Premature Aging
When you eat a lot of added sugar, it initiates a process called “glycation.” Glycation occurs when your blood sugar levels rise too high. When your blood sugar skyrockets, sugar molecules in your circulation system create compounds. These compounds then cause an inflammatory response. The inflammatory response affects the collagen and elastic in your skin, which help your skin retain its elasticity.
Glycation occurs with age regardless of what you eat. However, it will happen at an earlier age if you eat a lot of sugar. So to deflate those bags under your eyes, try cutting back on the sugary snacks.
3) Added Sugar Is Bad for Your Liver
You might associate cirrhosis with alcohol and excessive drinking. However, too much added sugar can also cause liver problems, including a condition doctors call “nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” Since sugar metabolizes in your liver, too much of it can stress out this vital organ.
4) Added Sugar Makes You Crave More Sugar
You’ve probably heard you can develop an addiction to sugar. That’s because our bodies naturally crave sweet things, and your brain sends out chemicals that make you happy when you eat sugar.
However, even if you don’t have a genuine sugar addiction, eating foods with a lot of added sugar makes you crave more sweet foods. Sugar causes your blood sugar levels to rise quickly, then crash. As a result, you’ll find yourself wanting more candy just a couple hours after you finish that first chocolate bar.
5) Added Sugar Raises Your Cholesterol
It doesn’t matter how often you turn down egg yolks and bacon if you snack on sugar on the side. This sweet substance promotes high cholesterol and raises the triglyceride levels in your blood. Doctors and scientists have routinely linked high cholesterol levels with several health conditions. These include an increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
6) Added Sugar Affects Metabolic Syndrome
People with metabolic syndrome have a combination of risk factors, including:
High cholesterol levels
High blood glucose levels
High blood pressure
Large waist measurement
Low “good” cholesterol levels
These risk factors dramatically increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Unfortunately, sugar correlates with all five of them. You probably don’t find it surprising that eating cake on a regular basis will lead to a bigger belly. However, when that big belly accompanies the other risk factors in metabolic syndrome, you increase your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
7) Added Sugar Has No Nutrients
When you go on a diet, you should aim to cut more than just calories. To get the most out of your meals, you want to eat as many nutrient-dense foods as possible.
Nutritionists describe a food as “nutrient-dense” when it contains a high level of vitamins and minerals. If a food has more healthy compounds than it does calories, it is nutrient-dense. Vegetables represent great nutrient-dense foods, since they don’t have many calories and they give your body loads of good nutrients.
Simple sugar, on the other hand, not only comes with high calories but with absolutely no nutrients. Some sugars might have trace elements of vitamins or minerals. However, for the most part, your body gets nothing but energy from refined sugar. If your body doesn’t immediately need the energy sugar gives it, it stores it as fat with no nutrients gained.
Added sugar might seem hard to avoid in our modern diet. However, cutting back on this treat can improve both your waistline and your health. Take a look at the ingredients in the foods you regularly buy and stay away from this hidden threat.