The role of sugar and salt in a healthy diet
Sugary Drinks and Sweets
It is natural to like sweets. And it is okay to enjoy them as an occasional treat, but it is vital to keep consumption to a minimum. Refined sugar is one of the bad carbs mentioned above. Not only does it cause problems with our blood sugar level, but it also uses up stored resources within our body (such as minerals and enzymes) in order to process the sugar. In addition there are many negative health effects that sugar contributes to including: hypoglycemia, suppression of the immune system, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, headaches, and depression.
Choose sweet treats that are home made or have naturally occurring sugar, such as fruits. Try making your favorite dessert with half or one-third less sugar than usual. Make dessert a special event once a week. Many foods have naturally occurring sugars, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Incorporate naturally sweet foods into your diet to help crowd out unhealthy sweets. Strawberries, apples, sweet potatoes or winter squash are all great options.
Avoid or severely limit sugary drinks – they are an easy way to pack calories and chemicals into your diet without even noticing it. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it! And just because a soda is sugar-free doesn’t make it healthy. Recent studies have shown that the artificial sugar substitutes used in soft drinks may interfere with your body's natural regulation system and result in your overindulging in other sweet foods and beverages. Try water with a squeeze of lemon or water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.
Once again the problem with salt comes with the over-use and over consumption of processed salt most commonly used. It is best to limit sodium to 2,300 mg per day – the equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. Most of the salt in our diets comes from processed, packaged, restaurant, and fast food. Processed foods like canned soups or frozen meals can contain hidden sodium that can quickly surpass this recommended amount. Many of us are unaware of how much sodium we are consuming in one day.
Salt itself is not bad. A high quality sea salt can have up to 90 minerals, which are healthy for our body. Look for sea salt that has a reddish or brownish tint, has no coloring, additives, chemicals and has not been bleached.