Despite a ruling from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, sugar remains a key element of a balanced diet. In February, they announced their new guidelines for the next five years. This included a relaxing of restrictions on cholesterol and fat intake, but a reduction in sugar intake. The former follows recent studies that have downplayed decades of thought on the harmfulness of certain fats. It went on to say, however, that Americans are eating too much “salt, sugar and saturated fats.”
The Positives of Sugar
Sugar is a carbohydrate found in many plants and fruits. It is therefore a source of energy in our bodies. It is, however, a short term source of energy created by a quick increase in insulin levels counteracted by a corresponding drop soon after. Simple sugars are more easily broken down by the body, while complex carbohydrates take longer and form a more long term energy solution. There are other benefits to natural sugars such as skin health. Sugar contains glycolic acid, which is an important part of maintaining skin health, removing blemishes and restoring essential skin oils.
Everything in Moderation
The calorific value of sugars found in cakes and in fruit is in fact the same. The main difference is that the former lacks nutritional value. The latter, natural sugars such as fructose, often come with nutrients that formed part of the sugar creating plant, such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. These minerals are sadly lost during the refining process.
Over the years there have been many fad diets – including a recent trend toward sugar-free lifestyles. It is important to remember that these diets and unreasonable ideals of body image and body size, create depressive cycles and can harm a person’s health. This is why the best advice is old advice, everything in moderation. Sweets, candies, cakes and chocolate can form a part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.