The Good and the Bad about Granulated Sugar
One of the most familiar types of sugar on the market is granulated sugar. Is this type of sugar good or bad for you?
Is Granulated Sugar Bad for You?
Granulated sugar, and sugar in general, can have several health implications.
Sugar and Obesity
Consuming an excessive amount of sugar is bad for your health. Having too much sugar in your diet is a contributing factor in obesity.
Obesity can lead to several health complications, increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. With these complications, a person is more likely to develop heart disease. Additionally, obesity by itself can increase an individual’s risk of heart failure.
Because excessive sugar consumption is linked to obesity, cutting down on your sugar intake can help you avoid these devastating health issues.
Sugar and Mental Health
Not only does excess sugar consumption affect our physical health, but it can also have a negative effect on our mental health.
Excessive sugar can increase the risk of depression, exacerbate anxiety, and be detrimental to learning and memory.
The increase in blood sugar and the subsequent crash that comes with the consumption of excessive sugar can worsen symptoms of mood disorders. This crash can also cause shaking and tension. For people with anxiety disorders, this can worsen their symptoms.
Additionally, sugar can impact cognitive function, causing difficulty thinking and fatigue. Learning and remembering become more difficult, making too much sugar problematic for success in work and school.
Sugar’s Addictive Qualities
Have you ever rewarded yourself (or your child) with a sugary treat when you accomplished something important?
We see sugar as rewarding because it affects the pleasure center of our brain in a similar way to drugs. When sugar is consumed, it activates the opiate receptors in our brains. This releases an excess of dopamine, causing a “high” that we want to experience again and again.
When this happens, it leads to compulsive behavior. We want to experience the same “high” that we felt before, and we decide to eat more sugar, regardless of the negative consequences it’s having on our bodies.
The verdict: Is granulated sugar bad for you? Yes, when used in excess.
Is Granulated Sugar Good for You?
With all these harmful ramifications of sugar, can consuming granulated sugar be beneficial in any way?
Sugar in Moderation Is Okay
It is difficult to avoid sugar altogether. Added sugar is hiding in all sorts of food including dressings, canned soups, yogurts and ketchup.
Other foods contain natural sugars. These include fruits, vegetables and dairy products. When considering how much sugar you are consuming in a day, it is better to enjoy natural sugars over added sugars.
Most Americans are consuming around 77 grams of sugar per day, about 19 teaspoons. The American Heart Association recommends a sugar intake that is much lower than that: nine teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women.
Sugar in moderation isn’t bad. Our bodies use sugar to convert it to energy that we use to function. However, it is much better to get these sugars from natural sources that will provide other nutrients for you rather than from the empty calories in granulated sugar.
The Myth of Granulated Sugar vs. “Healthier Sugars”
We discussed that getting sugar from natural sources is better, and that’s true — when it comes to foods such as fruits and vegetables. However, many people believe that it’s healthier to use a different sweetener such as honey or maple syrup instead of granulated sugar to get that sweet taste in their food.
In reality, these are still simple sugars that are adding empty calories to your diet. If you plan to sweeten your food, it doesn’t matter if it’s granulated sugar or honey. Granulated sugar isn’t worse for you than other sweeteners.
The verdict: Is granulated sugar good for you? It’s not any worse than other types of sugars. You just need to watch your daily intake.
When it comes to the good and bad of granulated sugar, while it isn’t bad in itself, it is still an added sugar full of empty calories. Seeing as the average American is consuming over the recommended daily amount, cutting down on the granulated sugar that you use every day can be beneficial to your health.