This Yogurt Doesn’t Look Like a Twinkie – and the Sour Facts on Sugar

Limiting our sugar intake is important – as sugar intake is correlated to weight-gain and a variety of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and brain disorders.

Take a look at Yoplait Original Strawberry Yogurt. It contains 26 grams of sugar – compared to 19 grams of sugar in one TwinkieStonyfield Smooth & Creamy Low-Fat French Vanilla has a whopping 29 grams of sugar per serving. The sugar in these yogurts causes you to feel hungrier and crave even more sugar – which totally defeats the point of eating a ‘healthy’ snack.

Unfortunately, yogurt is not the only product containing extreme amounts of sugar. In fact, most foods lining the shelves at the supermarket contain high amounts of the sweet stuff and we’re not paying attention to how it all adds up.

“Sugar can act like poison in high doses—and the amount in our diets has gone beyond toxic,” says Robert Lustig, M.D., a neuroendocrinologist at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine. The typical American now swallows the equivalent of 22 sugar cubes every 24 hours. That means the average woman eats 70 pounds—nearly half her weight—of straight sugar every year.

Many health professionals, myself included, believe that sugar is responsible for the current obesity epidemic. New research suggests that it’s the over-consumption of carbohydrates, sugar and sweeteners that is chiefly responsible for the epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes increased 166% from 1980 to 2012. Nearly 1 in 10 American adults have the disease.

While intake of excess sugars does lead to weight gain, it doesn’t end there. Sugar is correlated with elevated risks of cancer, stroke, dementia, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, joint pain and more.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, those with the highest sugar intake had a four-fold increase in their risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes.

“A bagel is no different than a bag of Skittles to your body,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, incoming dean of nutrition at Tufts University.

When we eat anything refined – bread, pasta, crackers, pretzels, cereal, sweets – our blood sugar spikes, causing us to crave more starchy-type food and these calories end up storing as fat in our bodies.

You will be surprised at how much added sugar is in foods we consume frequently:

Barbecue sauce: 3.75 teaspoons (15 grams) in 2 tablespoons
Ketchup: 2.25 teaspoons (9 grams) in 2 tablespoons
Fruit-flavored yogurt: 7.75 teaspoons (31 grams) in 6 ounces
Pasta sauce: 3 teaspoons (12 grams) in 1/2 cup
Breakfast bar: 6.25 teaspoons (25 grams) in 1 bar

To reduce the amount of sugar you eat, minimize the amount of pre-packaged food you buy and emphasize whole, natural foods like vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and millet are great grains that contain loads of fiber to protein to keep you full and your blood sugar stable.

Instead of flavored yogurt, try plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit, a dash of vanilla extract, cinnamon, chopped nuts and some shredded coconut for a nutritious snack without the added sugar!

 

Robin DeCicco

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