There is a lot of misinformation floating around these days about sugar consumption and how it can affect your health. Here are some common myths that are important to dispel and in order to set the record straight once and for all.
1. Sugar is responsible for hyperactivity: This common myth has been debunked (ohmyveggies.com/healthy-or-hype-7-sugar-myths-debunked/) in the scientific community by extensive research. In one study (scopeblog.stqanford.edu/2012/10/31/debunking-a-halloween-myth-sugar-and-hyperactivity/) where parents were told to record their child's behavior after they were given sugar by the researchers, all the children's behavior was described as "problematic or hyperactive". In reality, the children were given no sugar. This myth seems to hold true because sugar is often consumed in social setting such as parties, events, and conferences, etc., where there is a lot of other non-food related stimuli (visual and auditory) and this can have an affect on an individual's mood.
2. Sugar is the main cause for developing diabetes: Sugar is not the main culprit for individuals who develop diabetes (diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/myths/), but is instead the result of an inactive lifestyle, poor diet and genetics. Gaining unhealthy calories from any food source definitely contributes to this disease, but eating sugar alone will not make you an automatic candidate.
3. Brown sugar has a higher nutritional value than its white counterpart: You may have heard the old expression "the whiter the bread the sooner you will be dead," and have realized the trend of switching over to not only whole grains, but brown rice as well. This rule unfortunately does not apply to sugar (ohmyveggies.com.healthy-or-hype-7-sugar-myths-debunked/) since brown sugar had simply had molasses added to it. Please note that there is a difference between unrefined or raw sugar which can have a brown hue to it and is completely different in nutritional value.
4. Natural sugar is better for you: There has been a recent appearance of "alternative sugars" on supermarket shelves. Coconut sugar, agave nectar, date sugar are advertised as healthier versions of the refined version. This claim is false (ohmyveggies.com/healthy-or-hype-7-sugar-myths-debunked/), since it will always be metabolized by the body in the same way. These natural sugars have some added minerals, but the amount is minimal. A much larger amount would have to be consumed in order to reap the benefits.
5. Sugar-free labels means a product is healthier for you: If the actual food item in question is sans sugar than it is definitely healthier for your body, but this is not usually the case when sugar-free appears on a food label. This particular label often means the item is replaced with artificial sweeteners. These can do more harm than good to you. Even natural sweeteners like Stevia can cause issues (steviapoint.com/benefits-dangers/the-dangers-of-stevia-use/), so it is better to consume natural sugar in moderation than any amount of artificial sweetener.
6. Fruit is bad because it contains too much sugar: Fruit contains a high level of naturally occurring sugar named fructose. Unlike a few cookies or a piece of cake, fruit has other key nutrients (ohmyveggies.com/healthy-or-hype-7-sugar-myths-debunked/) like soluble fiber that helps minimize cholesterol and has anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins and antioxidants that help prevent disease. The insoluble fiber in fruit helps monitor the absorption of sugar into the blood stream and helps keep you full longer.
7. No added sugar on a product means you are in the clear: Just because a food item claims to have no added sugar in its ingredients does not always mean there is absolutely none present. Sugar has many different disguises and it is important to identify them in your groceries. It can be under names like dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, fructose, and fruit juice concentrates. A good rule of thumb is that anything with the ending - "ose" translates to sugar.