Who doesn’t love a sugary dessert or beverage once in a while? Even with all the guilt I feel enjoying one, it’s still worth it!

You’ve probably been buried in all the messaging today about how sugar is bad and what it leads to, but I’m here to let you know that you don’t have to live life completely on the savory side in order to stay healthy.

Sugar can be “good” or “bad”

As far as your health goes, sugar can be good or bad depending how it was processed, where it was derived from and how much of it you ate. When you eat too much sugar from unhealthy sources, it can lead to health issues such as weight gain and metabolic conditions. However, consuming healthy forms of sugars at the right times can be a part of a balanced diet. It can prevent low-carb diet plateaus and even boost your athletic performance.

Sugar mainly comes in three forms: fructose, glucose and sucrose. Fructose and glucose are found naturally in whole foods such as honey and fruits, and all whole foods have a natural combination of both these sugars. They are also found in processed foods, although the two sugars are usually in an isolated, refined form in these foods. These refined forms are not found naturally in whole foods, and they are the ones that are associated with health problems. They’re also devoid of just about all their nutritional density in the refined forms, meaning you get all the calories but none of the benefits when you consume them.

Your healthiest sweeteners

Essentially, the healthier forms of sugars for you will be the ones in their natural states. Fruit and vegetables, for example, were found to reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes in a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Care (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22474042?dopt=AbstractPlus).

Real honey was also found to boost the levels of antioxidants in the body, as shown by a study conducted by the University of California (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12617614). Other sweeteners that may not be nearly as destructive as refined sugars include coconut sugar, blackstrap molasses and maple syrup.

As with anything else, another key with sugar is moderation. Choosing healthier forms of sweeteners and consuming them in a responsible way will give you the sweet fix you crave without all of the health baggage!

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