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Nutrition: What is good vs. bad sugar?

The recommended limit of sugar intake in terms of calories is 100 calories of sugar or less for women and 150 calories of sugar or less for men. The best way to avoid eating over the recommended daily sugar amount is to educate yourself and family members on what is good sugar vs. bad sugar, identifying the total sugar and nutrition content on your food items and making adjustments to your diet as necessary to ensure you have balanced meals, including lots of fruits and vegetables.

Good sugar is essential nutrients you obtain from natural fruits, certain vegetables, and unprocessed foods. It is recommended by physicians to avoid drinking your sugars, meaning it is more efficient to consume the caloric or sugar intake. With drinks, additional additives are put into the drinks making it less nutritious if you had consumed the natural food. Additionally, the pulp and skin of the fruit contain high levels of the vitamin, which is typically discarded from fruit drinks. For example: take an orange. It takes around 32 oranges to make a jug of orange juice which also includes added sugar. Consuming one orange naturally has more nutritious value, including less than 12 grams of sugar, 70 milligrams of vitamin C, and 6% of your daily recommended amount of calcium.

Stick to the natural sources for sugar, including:

Eating whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices

Adding honey instead of sugar to your food/drinks

Selecting dairy products rich in nutrients instead of sugary desserts

Bad sugars come from processed items such as candies, sweet drinks, and pre-made meals. Americans have been consuming more sugar each day in every meal than we have in previous years. Excessive sugar in our system converts to fat and the result of an abundance of fat may lead to negative side effects such as bloating, blood clotting, weight gain, and a higher risk for developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Identify sugar labels in your food, including:

Corn sweetener

Corn syrup

Brown sugar

Inverted sugar


And sugar molecules such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose

Avoid adding unnecessary sugars to your diet by:

Cutting back on sweets (candy, desserts)

Reduce your alcohol consumption (Wine, beer, cocktails may contain syrup with high levels of sugar and calories)

Opt for unsweetened options in drinks or food to reduce your sugar intake in each serving

Talk to your primary care provider about options to monitor your sugar intake and review your current diet plan. Each person requires individualized meal plans in order to best meet their dietary needs depending on one's personal unlying health conditions, allergies, activity levels, and other factors. Inquire about Guiding the Wise’s health coaching services that connect you to a personal health nutritionist to plan your next steps towards a healthier lifestyle and diet.


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