Science has now shown us, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll on your health.
The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar—specifically high fructose corn syrup. Just take a look at the sugar consumption trends of the past 300 years:
- In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar PER DAY—translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!
Sugar is loaded into your soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and hidden in almost all processed foods—from bologna to pretzels to Worcestershire sauce to cheese spread. And now most infant formula has the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, so babies are being metabolically poisoned from day one if taking formula.
No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this country.
Today, 32 percent of Americans are obese and an additional one-third are overweight. Compare that to 1890, when a survey of white males in their fifties revealed an obesity rate of just 3.4 percent. In 1975, the obesity rate in America had reached 15 percent, and since then it has doubled.
Carrying excess weight increases your risk for deadly conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
In 1893, there were fewer than three cases of diabetes per 100,000 people in the United States. Today, diabetes strikes almost 8,000 out of every 100,000 people
You don’t have to be a physician or a scientist to notice America’s expanding waistline. All you have to do is stroll through a shopping mall or a schoolyard, or perhaps glance in the mirror.
But it might not be completely our fault. We’re told from the age of one that fruits are good for us. “Eat more fruit!” they say. It’s become ingrained in our collective consciousness, like wanting to see fireworks on the 4th of July or having a soft spot for Mr. Rogers reruns.
Well, eating fruit certainly isn’t as bad as eating, say, an entire package of raw brownie mix. And there are good ways to eat fruit, and good fruits to eat–which we’ll get into later–but first, let’s dispel the large-scale, blind acceptance of fruit as simply “good.”
For example, a large apple contains 23 grams of sugar–13 of which are fructose. To get an idea of how much that is, note that a Snickers bar contains 20 grams of sugar. I’m not saying Snickers bars are better for you than apples–that’s not true as apples have a lot of other good things like fiber and vitamins–but if you were to be strictly trying to limit your sugar intake, you’d be better off with a Snickers. Crazy, right?
And apples aren’t even the most sugary of fruits. That title goes to grapes and figs, who both have almost 14 grams of sugar per every three ounces.
Thankfully, some of the features of fruit prevent its fructose from being as detrimental as, say, the myriad of products in which high fructose corn syrup is a key ingredient. For example, the fact that they are often high in fiber coupled with the relative slowness in which your body digests solid food makes it so that your liver is fed the sugar in slow, manageable portions.
However, if you want to lose weight, simply don’t eat sugar–and that includes fruit. Of course, some vegetables also contain sugar, and some fruits don’t have quite so much. It can be a lot to keep track of, so what follows is a quick guide to keeping fruit (and vegetable) sugar in your diet to a minimum.
- Eat berries. You can’t go wrong with berries, particularly cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. They are low in sugar, high in fiber and high in vitamins and other micronutrients.
- The debate rages on in regards to whether or not tomatoes are fruits or vegetables. We’re coming down on fruit–and as far as fruits go, tomatoes are low in sugar, high in lycopene and other essential nutrients, and a good organic tomato goes with almost anything.
- As far as veggies, avoid the starchy ones if you’re trying to stay away from sugar (potatoes, corn, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, peas, etc.)
- You can’t go wrong with leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, collard greens or chard.
- Avocados are very high in good fat and very low in sugar–only one gram of a medium-sized avocado.
Luckily, the foods listed above are all delicious, meaning you don’t really have to sacrifice anything to dramatically reduce sugar in your diet. And there are so many combinations and so many lovely things you can do with them. Enjoy.