With Halloween just around the corner, homes will shortly be filled with baskets and bags of candy. While candy can be a nice treat occasionally, the overconsumption of foods like these that are high in added sugars may contribute to issues such as cavities and obesity. Of particular concern, is central obesity, which refers to the fat accumulation specifically on the abdominal region. Central obesity is a risk factor for several chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Added sugars differ from natural sugars in that they are found in highly processed foods like sodas and candy. They are also known as simple sugars because they are processed rapidly by the body and raise blood sugar very quickly.
Natural sugars are found in whole foods like fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains, and milk. These are also known as complex carbohydrates because they often have other beneficial nutrients with them like fiber or vitamins and minerals. There are more than 50 different names for sugar, with the most common being glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose. If you see any form of sugar listed as one of the first 3 ingredients on the ingredient list of a food, you should limit your consumption because these foods are considered high in sugar. While both children and adults metabolize sugar the same way, adults tend to be less active and burn less calories as they age, making it easier to pack on the pounds with smaller amounts of sugar.
This being said, food is meant to be enjoyed, especially with friends and family during the holidays, but everything is meant to be eaten in moderation. Limit the amount of added sugars you consume to less than 50 g per day and focus on getting a variety of other foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and nuts/seeds to balance meals out.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Submitted by Ashley Wild.