Sugar often gets a bad rap. Treated like the big bad wolf in the corner just waiting to trigger diabetes, encourage weight gain, or cause a post-indulgence energy crash, sugar is commonly seen as a high-risk, low-reward ingredient that must be avoided at all costs.
This is not the whole truth. Sugar has a misleading reputation that is largely based on confusion about the biology of the body and the science of sugar. In actuality, sugar is a critical nutrient that we all need to supply our bodies and brains with essential energy for daily functioning.
When you think of sugar, you probably picture gooey cinnamon rolls, fizzy soda, or the delicate white crystals you put in your coffee. But these products only represent one kind of sugar. There are actually two different types of sugar that make it into nearly everyone’s diet: added sugars and naturally occurring sugars.
Cinnamon rolls and soda are examples of products with added sugars: any refined sugar or sweetening product that is added to food or drinks during preparation or processing. Added sugars often show up on ingredient lists as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, honey, nectar, or pretty much any ingredient ending in “-ose” (the chemical suffix for sugar). These are the types of sugars you should minimize or avoid in your diet.
Naturally Occurring Sugars
Conversely, naturally occurring sugars are sugars that exist naturally in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Naturally occurring sugars provide your body with simple, accessible fuel from real food. “These are healthful additions to your diet,” says Dr. Andrew Bremer, pediatrician and NIH expert on sweeteners. “When you eat an orange, for instance, you’re getting a lot of nutrients and dietary fiber along with the natural sugars.”
The Science of Sugar
Sugar is a carbohydrate, one of the key macronutrients your body needs for optimum health. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and the main source of fuel for all your activities, from a high-intensity workout to the simple act of breathing.
Carbohydrates are divided into two groups: simple and complex. Simple carbs include the naturally occurring sugars found in vegetables, and fruits, as well as the sugars that are added during food preparation or processing. Complex carbs come in the form of starch and fiber and are found in whole grains, cooked dry beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits.
“Glucose is the number one food for the brain, and it’s an extremely important source of fuel throughout the body.”
– Dr. Kristina Rother, NIH pediatrician and expert on sweeteners
Both types of carbs are broken down into glucose during digestion. The glucose, also known as “blood sugar,” is then absorbed into your bloodstream, where it is used to power all your cells, tissues, and organs, including your brain. In fact, your brain requires glucose to function properly. Without out, you won’t think as clearly or react as quickly.
An Apple (or 10) a Day: Not Really Ten, But You’ll Get the Idea 😉
So how much sugar do you actually need in your diet? The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 225 grams of carbohydrates. When consumed from natural, whole-food sources, this should equal 45-65 percent of your daily calories. Let’s see what that looks like.
If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, 900-1300 of your daily calories should come from a combination of the naturally occurring complex and simple carbs found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans.
An apple averages 115 calories and 23 grams of sugar, while a Superfood Infusion™ averages 160 calories and 23 grams of sugar. As you can see, each serving provides 10% of your daily sugar needs and 10-15% of your daily carb-based calories. No one is saying eat 10 apples a day, but up to four pieces of fruit, yes!
The key to sugar consumption is to recognize that not all sugars are equal. When it comes to carbohydrates, the source matters! What type of sugar you eat is more important than the amount you consume. The carbs found in unprocessed, whole foods provide an array of health-promoting phytonutrients plus vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while the added sugars found in refined and processed foods are full of empty calories and provide no benefits to your health.
Where a Superfood Infusion™ Fits In
The only sugar you will find in a Superfood Infusion™ is what comes from the original fruits and/or vegetables included in the blend. Absolutely no additional sugar is included in our recipes.
On average, a Superfood Infusion™ includes 23 grams of naturally occurring sugar. This sugar content is consistent with an apple, a serving of grapes, or a typical fruit or vegetable smoothie, and it’s actually less than most high-pressure-processed juices. As an extra health benefit, a Superfood Infusion™ also contains the original fiber of the fruits and vegetables, promoting good digestive health, lowering cholesterol, and controlling blood sugar levels.
- Carbs in general are not the enemy. It’s the unnecessary, added sugars you find in processed foods and sweet beverages that you want to avoid.
- A balanced diet should include naturally occurring sugars as an essential source of fuel for your body and brain.
- A Superfood Infusion™ is a healthy, convenient way to incorporate naturally occurring sugars, fiber, and protein from whole fruits, vegetables, and seeds into your diet. That’s why we made them!
1 Contie, Vicki, and Carol Torgan. “Sweet Stuff: How Sugars and Sweeteners Affect Your Health.” NIH News in Health. Oct 2014.
2 “USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory.” USDA National Agriculture Library. Web. 19 Oct 2015.
3 “Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients).” Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2005). The National Academies Press. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
4 “Carbohydrates: MedlinePlus.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.