By Laura Fitzgerald
You’ve heard it all before: sugar is bad for you. Sugar makes you fat. You should avoid sugar at all costs. But, it’s hard to deny that sweet treats just taste good! It’s perfectly normal to have a sweet tooth (our tongues have plenty of sweet receptors for a reason). A simple alternative to all of the processed sugar options available is fruit. The sugar in fruit allows us to satisfy our cravings without the calories of a hefty, icing-clad dessert. But, a lot of people avoid fruit, fearing the sugar and carbohydrate content of nature’s candy. And that’s exactly the point — we’re talking about nature’s candy, not mass manufactured candy. Naturally held sugars, like the ones you find in whole fruits, support human health, while refined and processed sugars do not.
Believe it or not, our sweet tooth was designed to support our long- term health. Since sugar is a basic form of energy in food, a sweet tooth was adaptive in ancient times when food was more limited. It helped draw us to naturally sweet foods, like fruit, for survival. However, too much sugar can be toxic, so our bodies also evolved to quickly convert digested sugar in the bloodstream into fat. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors needed plenty of fat — more than other primates — to be active during times when food was scarce.
Simply put, humans evolved to crave sugar, store it, and then use it. However, food companies use our natural affinity for sweets in a way that harms us by adding refined sugar into foods you wouldn’t even think needed it. Bread, canned soups, nuts, and cured meats are all types of food that often contain unnecessary added sugars. The food industry has made a fortune because we’ve kept our Stone Age bodies that crave sugar, but we live in a Space Age world where sugar is cheap and plentiful. Bite by bite, more people gain weight because they can’t control normal, deeply rooted urges for a valuable, tasty and once limited food source, especially when it’s hidden in foods that don’t need it.
So, what can we do when food companies have turned sugar into a scapegoat? Ultimately, we need to restore our diets to a more natural state. This doesn’t mean banishing the sweets that we enjoy; it means a sharper focus on moderation. It also means introducing naturally held sugars back into our diets. Apples, grapes, melons, bananas, oranges, berries – choose these sweets over those other guys with their processed crumb toppings and chocolate drizzles.
|Need a little help getting fruit back into your routine? Here are some tips to help you eat more fruits.
For the best nutritional value:
For meals and snacks: