Caution: sugar is addictive
When we feel sad or bored, we often experience sweet cravings. It happens because when sugar enters our bodies, it triggers the release of chemicals affecting the pleasure center in our brain.
Over time, an increased “dose” of sweet is needed to revive the same sensations, and we begin to eat more and more of it, thus getting into a vicious cycle.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (3 packets) of sugar per day, while adolescents should consume no more than three.
This amount includes the sugar contained in foods (for example, bread, yogurt, etc.) and some other sweeteners you might consume.
An excess of this type of substance in the diet leads to an increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular or pancreatic disorders, as well as diabetes.
If you’re craving something sweet, treat yourself to vegetables and not overly sweet fruits. They contain less sugar than refined products (chocolate, cookies, and cakes). Monitor the amount of calories you consume, though.
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Sugar and depression
Eating a lot of sweets can ruin not only your figure, but also your mood.
When you eat candy, blood sugar surges. Cells begin to absorb it, and as a result, your body receives fast energy.
Then, however, sugar supplies are depleted, which is when you may feel neurotic, irritable, and anxious.
If there are a lot of sweet products in your diet, then this cycle will never stop, which in turn will negatively affect your mood.
It is recommended that you consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day (0.9 oz/25 g), including those in ready-made products.
For example, an 11.2 fl oz (330 ml) glass of orange juice contains 11.1 oz (32 g) of sugar, a glass of Coke — 1.4 oz (39 g).
Scientists have compared the eating habits of almost 3,500 middle-aged people.
Some of them gave preference to refined products (white bread, chocolate, sweet desserts, fried foods) while others preferred vegetables, fruits, and fish.
After 5 years, the risk of depression increased by 58% in people from the first group. In the second, it decreased by 26%.
Healthiest sugar substitutes: pros and cons
When sugar was dubbed “the white death,” its natural substitutes began to gain popularity. However, many of these natural sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners have pros and cons.
- Fructose does not cause the feeling of hunger, but neither does it affect the feeling of satiety and therefore encourages overeating. One can eat a lot more cookies with fruit sugar than with the usual sucrose. The problem is that fructose is contained not only in diabetic food (where its use is justified), but is also being used in conventional foods more and more each year
- agave syrup contains a large amount of fructose, which causes insulin resistance, increased cholesterol, and intestinal disorders.
- molasses, which is extracted from crushed dates, is rich in nutrients, but also in fructose
- rice syrup doesn’t contain fructose but has an extremely high glycemic index, which causes a sharp increase in blood sugar level
- honey, although it contains fructose, has antibacterial properties and stimulates the digestive system. However, its consumption should be monitored
- stevia is calorie-free and doesn’t increase blood sugar, but neither does reduce sugar cravings
- maple syrup is characterized by low fructose content, contains antioxidants, and minerals
When you buy these products, read the list of ingredients. Manufacturers may combine useful substances with harmful additives.