Are Natural Sugars Just As Bad As Regular Sugar?

by Lori Newell

About Lori Newell

I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.

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Too much sugar in the diet can lead to weight gain because sugar is high in calories. It can also lead to tooth decay and heart disease as well. To prevent health problems it is necessary to watch sugar intake from all forms. While natural forms of sugar may seem like they are a better choice than regular table sugar, that is not always the case. If you're craving something sweet, stick to a piece of fresh fruit, instead of turning to natural sweeteners.

Considerations

Sugar comes in many forms and some occur naturally in foods. Fructose, found in fruits and the lactose in milk. Low-fat milk and fruits are part of a healthy diet even though they contain some naturally occurring sugar. Along with the sugar these foods contain many nutrients the body needs and they are low in fat and calories. All other types of sweeteners are considered added sugars and this includes natural sugars such as honey, molasses and syrup. According to the American Heart Association, the body does not need added sugar to function correctly so there is no need to have it in the diet. Current recommendations state women and children consume no more then 6 teaspoons sugar per day and men should consume no more then 9 teaspoons per day of sugar.

Weight Control

Even natural sugars contain calories and they can contribute to weight gain if you consume too much. Honey contains several kinds of sugar, including sucrose -- the type of sugar found in table sugar. Since it has a higher concentration of sugar, it is higher in calories than table sugar. A teaspoon of white table sugar has about 15 calories, while 1 tsp. of honey has about 21 calories. One teaspoon of molasses has about 20 calories and 1 tsp. of maple syrup can have as much as 50 calories. While these calorie counts might seem low, they add up over time, especially if you consume several teaspoons of natural sugar a day, and contribute to weight gain.

Nutritional Value

Most Americans need to cut back on all types of sugar, including natural sugars, because they fall short in nutritional value. For example, honey provides only trace amounts of minerals and fails to serve as a significant source of minerals, despite its "healthy" reputation. One exception is molasses, which provides you with essential minerals, including calcium and iron.

Heart Disease

Sugar can increase the levels of triglycerides in your bloodstream, because they may provide more energy than your body can use at a given time. Instead, your body converts the excess energy to triglyceride, increasing the levels of these fats in your bloodstream. Given the calorie content of sugar, the Cleveland Clinic recommends cutting back on all forms of added sugar to reduce triglyceride levels.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.