"Sugar" is an ingredient in thousands of foods. It's in a lot of our favorite foods, whether we know it or not! It's also an ingredient that's often misunderstood.
Clinical dietitian, Margaret Riedl is a diabetes educator for Desert Springs Hospital and lets us in on the facts about sugar. She says that understandably, patients are sometimes confused about sugar. A common misunderstanding has to with the words "sugar free."
"Cause when the product says sugar free, no added sugar, they believe sometimes that the food is free -- meaning they can eat all they want. Or that it's a healthier choice. But its really the total carbohydrate value," said Riedl.
Most foods eventually become sugar -- or carbohydrates -- anyway during digestion. But complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat, convert slowly whereas simple carbohydrates, such as refined breads and fruit cause a much faster surge in blood sugar levels.
This can be problematic for Type II diabetics because the body is out of step with insulin production -- which regulates sugar in the blood.
"And collectively, those spikes in the blood sugar can lead to complications if they're not managed," said Riedl.
Depending on how it's derived, sugar has many names, including sucrose, lactose, maltose, glucose, dextrose, honey and brown sugar.
Since doing away completely with sugar in one's diet would be practically impossible, Riedl's number one rule is -- anything... in moderation.
Foods that are high in fiber help to balance the equation.
"That fiber swells up in certain forms to help collect fat and water and make you feel fuller," said Riedl.
If you feel as though you've gone a little too far with sugar -- don't take it lying down.
Riedl said, "You have a defense weapon which is exercise, which is one of the things that's equally as important to eating."
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