Food&Drink Writer Eleanor Howson busts the myths surrounding the health effects of sugar, exploring whether it deserves such a bad name

Written by Eleanor Howson
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Can sugar of any type be nutritional?

We are all fed the notion that sugar is the devil. Yet, we still all give into it as our guilty pleasure when we savour a bowl of ice cream or bar of chocolate. However, while we know that fruit also contains sugar, we do not brand it as unhealthy and feel guilty after consuming it. So, what sugar should we run away from? Can sugar of any type be nutritional? Undoubtedly, there is a distortion about the risk of eating sugar.

Natalie Olsen, writing on the behalf of Healthline, reported that the lies about sugar need to be debunked. While Olsen contended that added sugar is the main devil on the table, she informed that even this does not need to be removed completely from our diets. It is all about moderation! By the term added sugar, Olsen was referencing sugar that is not natural but, rather, is added to food to make it taste sweeter. This includes honey, which is often marketed as a healthy sugar! Natural sugars contain vital vitamins and minerals needed for the function of the body. Therefore, we are right to believe eating fruit is not a guilty trait. Fruit also contains fibre allowing sugars to be absorbed more slowly in the body than added sugars. 

So, are sweeteners a better alternative to added sugar? Is diet coke healthier than the regular option? The answer is no. In fact, sweeteners are more likely to have a negative impact on your blood sugar. Therefore, health problems could arise from the consumption of sweeteners. Olsen references a study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal relating sweeteners to weight gain. So, if you have been absorbed by the lies of a switching to sweeteners to avoid the negative health effects sugar supposedly causes, think again!

Natural sugars contain vital vitamins and minerals needed for the function of the body

Ultimately, the main problem with sugar on our health is how much we consume. Sweeteners will not solve it. But, removing sugar completely from our diets can be very challenging. We are told that our body does not require sugar to function but, it is so easily craved. Why is this? Some may say chocolate is like a drug for it gives feelings of pleasure and stimulates the mind. However, Olsen explains that chocolate is not addictive like a drug. Although it feels additive, Olsen contends that it is our bodies need to steady our blood sugar levels that makes us crave sugar even once we have eaten it. This is because, when sugar is consumed, our blood sugar levels rise rapidly and then drop suddenly. 

So, it seems a sugary treat here and now should not be leaving us feeling as guilty as we are. There is no need to cut out all the sugar in our diet. Forget the distortions we are fed through the media about the impact of sugar. Natural sugar is a win! But if you can avoid consuming as much added sugar your health will thank you for it.