Benefits of Sugar and Consuming it in a Balanced Way

Benefits of Sugar and Consuming it in a Balanced Way

Benefits of sugar

Whether it is the season for festivities or you are simply feeling low, it’s natural to reach out for something sweet. The sugar rush gives you a boost of energy, making you want some more. Irresistible as it may be, sugar is something that is best kept to a minimum. You need not go on a no-sugar diet, but yes, reducing the intake of sugar ensures a healthier lifestyle. The constant dependence on anything sweet does little to help us reach our weight-loss goals, anyway.

Health Benefits of Sugar

Yes, you have heard it right; sugar can be healthy. Though packaged with a high calorie count, sugar does have its share of health benefits which have a positive effect on the body’s metabolism –

  • Though lacking in nutritional value and a high 4-calories per gram, sugar can provide you with energy, increasing body productivity. But keep it to a moderate level. Large quantity of anything sweet may provide you that guilty pleasure, but you have your bathroom scales to answer to the next day.
  • Even the word ‘sugar’ is taboo to diabetics and those who’re constantly watching their waistline. Research has shown that diabetes is a genetic condition, mostly which starts off during birth. Indulging in a dessert after every meal is a strict no-no, but the occasional bite of the sweet stuff poses no health risks.
  • Artificial sweeteners may be a tad bit healthier than sugar, but the natural sugar is produced without being polluted by pesticides. That’s one up for this natural sweetener!

So, How Can You Consume Sugar in a Smart Way?

However hard you try, keeping away from sugar altogether may not be very practical. It is an essential ingredient in many meals, and of course, the in-between snack time too! To gain from the many benefits sugar has to offer, you may want to enjoy this sweetness in a smarter manner.

  • Though the summer heat serves as the perfect excuse, aerated drinks easily top most people’s diet sins. Yes, a cold and fizzy drink does quench thirst, not to mention the sugar rush, but this can be quite addictive. Not only are these drinks high in caffeine content but one regular glass can contain calories equivalent to 10 teaspoons of sugar! Now, that’s definitely worth thinking twice before popping open a cola! And don’t let the bold label ‘Diet’ fool you; these diet and health drinks may proclaim lesser calories, but contain synthetic sugars which are equally harmful. Reach out for a glass of cool lemonade instead. This is equally, if not more, refreshing and has much lower sugar content. Boring though it may sound, drinking plenty of water is the best alternative. Not only does it help to avoid unnecessary sugars, but keeps you hydrated at the same time.
  • Substituting sugar with an artificial sweetener may not be a healthy option. Try using honey with your lemonade or green tea instead. It will not only taste just as sweet, but makes it healthier too. You might want to give unprocessed brown sugar a try too.
  • Set a realistic goal and have a sweet splurge occasionally. Knowing that there is a pre-planned sweet treat to look forward to might help you from giving into temptation more often.

How Can Sugar be Consumed in Other Ways

  • Packaged foods can be appealing not just to the eye but to the palette too. Be a smart shopper and take a closer look at the labels. The Nutrition Facts listed on the temptingly packed food may not give you a complete picture. Sugar can be hidden in many forms which you would not even suspect. Coated with synthetic sugars, packaged cereal is not exactly the healthy way to start your day. Canned juices, vegetables and fruits may be a better choice than the array of candy bars stacked nearby. But even these are loaded with various preservatives to give the packed foods a longer shelf life.
  • It’s not only the sweet-tasting packaged foods that are unhealthy; sauces and pureed foods contain high levels of sugar and preservatives too. So, before you add an extra dash of mayo on your sandwich, you might want to pause and re-think.
  • Look out for fresher options. Whether it is vegetables or fruits, fresh is the best way to go. A freshly squeezed orange juice sans sugar may be healthier than one made from concentrate, but juice contains more sugar than the fruit itself.
  • Reach out for healthier substitutes. That mouth-watering cheesecake may be topped with fresh strawberries, but even a few bites will shoot up the calorie count. Instead, reach out for a seasonal fruit. Not only will this satisfy your craving for something sweet, but you can eat the whole fruit without as much as a single pang of guilt.

Sugar need not be something you simply keep away from. A few simple tweaks in your diet can help you reduce the sugar intake in a smarter way. And an added bonus is that you may knock off some extra calories from your daily count too. Reduce your intake of sugar gradually; there are plenty of healthy ways to sweeten your diet.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad