Sugar, why is loving you so wrong?

If loving sugar is wrong, who wants to be right? New dietary guidelines say we should have even less of it than ever.

In their 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines released late last year, the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture provided recommendations for healthy eating to reduce the risk of preventable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Their new guideline for sugar intake got much more specific than in years past.

Old guideline: Limit intake of added sugars, which are sweeteners added during processing or preparation or consumed separately.

New guideline: Less than 10 percent of daily calories should come from added sugars. (These do not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in dairy and fruits.)

“Eating fewer sugars helps to decrease overall caloric intake, ensure adequate vitamin and mineral consumption, and control weight,” said Dee Paradowski, dietitian and diabetes educator with Norton Healthcare.

For most women, the new recommendation translates to just 200 calories a day from added sugar — about the same as one can of regular soda. Beverages are the biggest culprit in the quantity of added sugar Americans consume.

“Strong evidence shows that consuming a lot of added sugars is associated with excess weight in children and adults. There also is a link to an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,” Paradowski said. “This doesn’t mean you have to cut sugar out of your life completely; just make changes to how many servings you have by establishing healthy eating patterns.”

What sugars are OK? Naturally occurring sugars, like those in fruit and dairy products.

Not OK? Forms of sugar listed in a food’s ingredient list. These include fructose, corn syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose and cane juice.

What about honey?

You may think honey is a healthy substitute for sugar, but think again. Researchers gave a group of people three sweeteners — honey, cane sugar and high-fructose corn sweetener —  for two weeks at a time. They compared measures of blood sugar, insulin, body weight, cholesterol and blood pressure, and found all three sweeteners had basically the same impacts on health. The moral of the story: Whatever sweetener you choose, use it sparingly.

OK, so these sweeteners may be equal, but honey does have some health benefits: It can alleviate allergies, boost energy and memory, suppress a cough and is a great wound and burn healer.

Wondering if sugar is contributing to your risk for diabetes? Take a free online assessment

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