From chocolate desserts to heart-shaped candies, sugary treats tempt the sweet tooth on most occasions. Should people be worried about sugar? This simple carbohydrate has been blamed for excitability in kids, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Despite all the publicity, the verdict is in - sugar is not guilty on several counts, reports Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
MYTH: Natural sugars in fruit are better than added sugars.FACT: The human body makes little distinction among sugars, according to the Food and Drug Administration Sugars Task Force. The major difference might be that one type of sugar, fructose, does not require insulin to be digested, while another type of sugar, sucrose, does. Sucrose is the main natural sugar in certain fruits - cantaloupe, oranges and peaches. The body usually converts any sugar to glucose (blood sugar) for energy or converts any excess to body fat.
MYTH: Dark sugars are more nutritious than white sugars.
FACT: Honey, brown sugar and maple syrup are not significantly more nutritious than table sugar. Honey does contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Brown sugar is simply white sugar mixed with a little molasses. Molasses, especially blackstrap, does provide iron.
MYTH: Sugar causes hyperactivity.
FACT: Some moms swear that sweets at birthday parties make their kids act up. They may be disappointed to learn that taking the sugar out of celebrations is unlikely to calm children. The American Dietetic Association and the FDA agree that there is no sound evidence to indicate that sugar is responsible for behavioral changes in youngsters or adults.
MYTH: People can get "addicted" to sugar.
FACT: There is little evidence that sugar is "addictive." When the same people who claim they get a "rush" from refined sugar feel nothing from other blood-sugar-raising foods, their claim becomes questionable. At best, humans seem to be born with a love for sweets.
MYTH: Overweight folks eat more sugar than others do.
FACT: To the contrary, studies suggest that heavier people tend to eat more fat, and less sugar, than thin folks. After all, fat has 9 calories per gram while sugar has 4 calories per gram. However, some foods are high in both fat and sugar.
MYTH: Sugar causes diabetes.
FACT: Diabetes results in the body's inability to metabolize sugar properly, but is not caused by eating too much sugar. It's also a myth that people with diabetes have to avoid all sugar. However, many do have to watch their weight and work with their physicians and dietitians to determine how much sugar they can eat safely.
MYTH: Sugar is the biggest cause of cavities.
FACT: High-sugar foods contribute to dental caries, but sugar alone is not the culprit. Other carbohydrates can stimulate the acid that decays teeth.