Refined sugar vs. unrefined sugar

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Sugar: We know it’s bad, but we still love it. Almost every single life event is accompanied by a corresponding sugar-filled sidekick. Birthday or wedding? You’ve gotta eat cake. Bad breakup? Eat a tub of ice cream. Great day? Reward yourself with a cupcake. Fall has just arrived? Pull out the pumpkin spice lattes. Really, we’ll find any excuse to eat sugar.

In reality, sugar is in even more food than you might think — ketchup, white flour, flavored yogurt and more. And the problem is, too much sugar can raise your blood fat and increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, in addition to filling your mouth with cavities. According to the American Heart Association, men should only eat about 37.5 grams and women 25 grams per day. To put that in perspective, just one can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar. So we’re undoubtedly ingesting way too much.

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But there is an upside. What you really need to watch out for is refined sugar, which has no nutritional value and is extremely processed, in addition to possibly containing harmful chemicals. This kind of sugar doesn’t have any nutritional value. We can, however, have unrefined, natural sugar. Unrefined sugar retains much more of sugar’s natural nutrients, such as calcium, iron and magnesium. Unlike refined sugar, there’s actually a reason for why we’re putting it in our body. In case you’re unsure of what unrefined sugar looks like, here are a few common sources: honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple sugar, cane juice, date sugar, fruit and molasses.

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Completely cutting out refined sugar is not an easy task, and it’s not something that you necessarily you need to do. Eating some cookies here and some chocolate there is really what makes life, well, a little bit sweeter. But that doesn’t mean you should overdose. Luckily for you, once you’re aware of how widespread sugar is, it’s relatively easy to avoid. All it takes is a quick look at the nutrition label: If there are a lot of grams of sugar, try to look for a healthier option. Also, take a moment to check out the ingredient list. Though there are a lot of foods with sugar, there are also a lot that use natural sweeteners. There’s no reason for why we shouldn’t have a little fun – or sugar – in our lives, but don’t let your body, health and future suffer as a result. A tip for those with a sweet tooth: Try the healthiest, most delicious sugar out there – fruit!

Image Sources: Kurtis Garbutt, Dave Toussaint, bionicgrrrl under Creative Commons

Contact Agnes Zhu at [email protected].