It’s a common refrain these days to not eat fruit, avoid sugar, and get more protein. Protein is hailed as the one safe macronutrient, so unlike fat and carbohydrates, it has not been demonized.
A recent article heading by Nutrition Business Journal makes exactly this point:
With carbohydrates demonized and fat a non-starter, protein is being called “the macronutrient last standing.” Protein has few detractors and shows up in everything from cereal to sports drinks.
But does cutting all (or most of) the sugar out of your diet really make sense? Time and again, when it comes to “nutritional marketing,” subtle and all-too-important distinctions are frequently missed.
It is established science that our bodies need carbohydrates to function. Our brain is fueled exclusively by sugar in the form of glucose. Thus the real issue is not the naturally-occurring sugar from fruits and vegetables, but from two pesky modifiers that make all the difference—refined and added sugar.
Thus, the answer is “yes” if you are cutting out refined and added sugars, but the answer is “no” if you are talking about the natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables. This is the sugar that comes in a nutrient-rich natural package and is designed to feed your brain.
So how much sugar in your diet is too much? Should you limit sugars from fruit too?
Here are some essential insights:
- Refined and added sugars contribute to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, impaired cognitive function, and cancer.
- Refined and added sugars may be listed on ingredient labels as sugar, honey, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar, or fruit juice concentrates.
- Regardless of the name, refined and added sugars are nutrient-poor substances that are absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin to dangerous levels, and in the case of the higher fructose sweeteners, increasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- The average American gets about 15 percent of calories from refined and added sugars, and getting 10 percent of calories from added sugars is associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to lower sugar intake.1
With all of the above being true, it is likely that any amount of refined and added sugar is too much. Eating foods with added sugars habituates us to their excessively sweet tastes, increasing cravings and encouraging overeating. As humans, we naturally gravitate toward sweet flavors, and we should allow this natural inclination to guide us toward fresh fruits.
Fresh fruits provide amazingly sweet flavors (no formulator does it better) packaged with fiber, essential nutrients, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals that protect us against the same diseases that refined and added sugars promote.
Unlike refined foods with added sugars (some processed foods, like hummus and smoothies, can actually be ok), nutrient-rich fresh fruits do not perpetuate sweet cravings or overeating. They nourish and detoxify your body, stabilize and strengthen your immune system, and optimize the way you eat.
So, when you see a product like Nutrient Rich Superfood Infusions combining nutritious ingredients like mango, apple, and kale, you don’t need to worry that you are taking in too much sugar.
These are unsweetened products with no refined or added sugar; only the sugar that was in the original fruit or vegetable is in a Superfood Infusion™. On average, there are 23 grams of naturally occurring sugars in a Superfood Infusion. This sugar content is on par with any fruit or vegetable smoothie and is less than high-pressure-processed juices. A Superfood Infusion also contains the original fiber found in the fruits and vegetables.
Also note: Compared with other pouch or squeeze pack products on the market, a Superfood Infusion is double the size, not double the cost, so there are actually two servings of healthy fuel for your body, which you can consume throughout the day when it isn’t convenient to eat fruits or vegetables in their original packaging.
1. Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, et al. Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med 2014.