Sugar is everywhere.

We expect it and look for it in our snacks and our drinks, only avoiding it and opting for the sugar-free variety only when we absolutely have to. In spite of this, the sugar-free candies are always overpriced and limited in variety, and are often skipped for these reasons, as well as the additional reason being that they just don’t taste as good. Oftentimes, they’re usually shoved to the end of the aisle and ignored when possible.

But lets say you don’t need to watch out for sugar, because you don’t eat very many cookies or candies in the first place. How about the sugar in your bread, or the sugar in your soup? Most of us aren’t too aware that we can find sugar in these products in the form of added sugars, as these usually are only found when we’re paying close attention to the labels.

But the issue with sugar that it is, indeed, everywhere. Not just in our cookies and Frappucinnos, but in just about everything else. In fact, we only have just become aware of how invasive this substance is just recently, thanks to an order by the FDA to require all nutrition labels to state how much added sugar is in our serving of crackers, for example.

It’s easy to look at the measly low number of grams of added sugar is in our dinner serving and disregard it, but it’s easy to forget how quickly it all adds up. Did you know that the American Heart Association recommends a mere 36 grams of sugar a day for men, and an even lower 25 grams for women? This number is easy to double or even triple in a day, considering a single can of pop nets you close to 30 grams of sugar alone!

Sugar shouldn’t be seen as an absolute villain, though. In fact, many people prefer a sugary drink over it’s sugar-free alternative, stating that the negative effects of sugar can be avoided when taken in moderation, while the negative effects of artificial sweeteners exist even in smaller amounts, and get worse with repeated exposure.

Nowadays, food scientists are researching the benefits of natural sweeteners. Stevia, for example, has been very popular as a healthier alternative to sugar, and a more natural and safer alternative to artificial sweeteners. The problem, however, comes down to taste. Many people dislike the bitter, unpleasant aftertaste of Stevia sweeteners, preferring to simply limit their cane sugar intake to avoid both health concerns and less than favorable flavors.

As experiments and research on sweeteners continues, scientists are looking to natural sources like monk fruit to both meet the demands consumers have for the taste and healthiness of their snacks. However, these types of sugars are still costly to make, and thus, many times more expensive than normal sugar, while also failing to provide the same flavors and mouthfeel as traditional cane sugar. Is this simply a case of not being able to have your literal and figurative cake and eat it, guilt-free, too? 

Only time will tell, but in the meantime, people are urged to be ever so slightly more aware of just how much sugar they consume, even if they’re skipping the heavily-sweetened drinks and snacks.

Sources:

American Heart Association, “Added Sugars”.

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars

Fortune, “The Hunt for the Perfect Sugar”.

https://fortune.com/2017/02/22/sugar-stevia-low-calorie-sweetener/

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