All About Sugar

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As the weather gets colder, we can't help but think about baking and cookies and waiting for Santa. When we start planning what to bake around the holidays, we know our #1 ingredient will be sugar. But sugar is not just for baking. In fact, it's in a lot of foods that may surprise you! Knowing the facts about sugar can help you make smarter food choices today, tomorrow and during the holidays!

Sugar is composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, but it comes in many forms. Sugar comes in many forms! Our bodies convert the sugar in foods into glucose or blood sugar. Table sugar or sucrose is part glucose, part fructose.  Fructose is the sugar in fruit. Maltose is the sugar in beer and is two parts glucose. Milk sugar, or lactose, is part glucose, part galactose. Dextrose is glucose that comes from plants like corn and grapes. Got it?

Almost all foods that are not meat contain natural sugars. From vegetables to beans to breads, our body processes the sugars in our food differently. The  carbohydrates in vegetables, beans and whole grains are broken apart and used slowly and efficiently by the body. Sugar in the form of starches like bread, pasta, corn and potatoes are composed of chains of sugars that break down quickly.

The hormone that manages the process of breaking down sugars is called insulin. When glucose is present in our bloodstream, insulin levels spike to help manage our use of it in various body tissues. Once the glucose has been used or stored as fat, our insulin levels dip, signaling us to eat again. It's important to eat sugar in moderation so that your body can regulate it normally. If not, you could be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes or even asthma or cancer.

If you want to try to curb your sugar cravings which can come in the form of bread or pasta or dessert, it's good to eat foods that have less sugar and high-quality fat. Try to incorporate nuts, avocados, coconuts or olives as snacks. Bananas, kiwi, pineapples and plums also contain serotonin, which can help the brain fight cravings.

Want to know more about sugar? Keep reading!

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