Is There Room for Sugar in a Healthy Diet?
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, bringing with it the temptation for sweet, pretty candies and chocolate, like these Dark Chocolate Truffles with Wheat Germ and homemade chocolate bark. But will a Valentine’s sugar splurge blow your healthy diet?
Many experts agree it’s not necessary to purge all sugar from your diet, so go ahead and make that special dessert you’ve been planning. It’s important, however, to be mindful of the amount you’re consuming on a regular basis and not overdo it. Naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, milk and other dairy products isn’t the concern. What you need to watch is added sugar, found in sweetened beverages, soda, cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream and sorbets. Added sugar even appears in savory items, such as tomato sauce, bread, ketchup and salad dressing.
The American Heart Association provides recommended limits on the amount of added sugar we should eat on a regular basis. It recommends women consume no more than 100 calories or about 6 teaspoons from added sugar a day and 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons for men.
Added sugars come in many forms, from sweeteners including all those words ending in “ose” on a food label, such as sucrose, maltose and high fructose corn syrup, to corn syrup, molasses, honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, honey and fruit juice concentrates. These are all considered empty calories, meaning they contribute energy but no vitamins or minerals to food. It’s best to get your calories and energy from fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ and lean protein, as they offer many more nutritional benefits.
Read food labels to determine whether the products you are buying contain added sugar. Just as you try to spend your money wisely, try to practice a similar strategy with your calories. Making sweet treats from scratch allows you to alter the amount of added sugar. For a delicious dessert without too much added sugar (only about 2 teaspoons per treat), try these Apple Turnovers made with wheat germ.
What healthy treats do you eat to satisfy your sugar cravings? Let us know!