Sugar in Your Diet

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate. It is the smallest form of carbohydrates that our bodies use for energy. Like starch, sugar provides 4 calories for every gram. Some sugars are found naturally in foods like most fruits (berries, oranges, apples) and their juices. There are sugars in milk. When we eat these foods we are getting the calories from sugar along with many important vitamins and minerals.

Many of the sugars that we eat are mostly calories. They contain few or no other nutrients. Some of these sugars we add at home. They include table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrup, jams and jellies. Some sugars are added when foods are manufactured. You may see names like dextrose, fructose, maltose, and lactose on food labels. They are all types of sugars. They make foods taste sweet. We also get a lot of added sugar from soft drinks and other sweetened beverages, candies, and sweet bakery products.

Eating a lot of sugary foods can cause tooth decay. If we eat sweet foods, it's best to eat them as part of a meal. It's also important that sugary foods don't replace foods like fruits and vegetables at snacks and meals.

When we shop we can look at food labels and see how many different sugars have been added to a cereal or baked product. If fresh or frozen fruits are too expensive, we can try canned fruits that are packed in juice instead of heavy syrup. The syrup can be drained from canned fruits too, so we don't get the extra sugar.

To find out more about other carbohydrates, read the file "Carbohydrates".

To cut down on sugar read the file "How to Cut Down on Sugar".

If you have any questions about sugar in your diet, go to "Ask the Nutritionist".

To test what you know, take the Quiz on Sugars.

To find out about the sugar you eat, go to "How Sweet is Your Diet?".

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