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October 22, 2002

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA:

On my last trip to the store everything I picked up had anywhere from 8 to 40 grams of sugar in it. I do not have diabetes, but want to cut down on sugar, as my teeth are taking a beating. Does my body need a certain amount of sugar? Do you have or know where I can get a list of low sugar foods to eat every day?

Answer:

Sugar gets into foods two ways. Some foods naturally have sugar in them or break down into glucose fairly rapidly once they have been digested, and there are added sugars. I think you are trying to cut back on the added sugars as these are the ones that contribute to tooth decay and other health problems.

I would suggest that you stick to foods that are fresh or frozen or canned without added sugar and stay away from baked goods such as cookies, pies cakes and any food that is processed with a lot of sugar. Sugars found in foods themselves include fructose (fruit sugar) lactose (milk sugar), Maltose (grain/malt sugar). Added sugars are sucrose (table sugar, malto-dextrin, corn syrup, High-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses). The more of the latter forms of sugar that are in the label, the higher the sugar content. The total number of grams of sugar is stated on the label.

The fuel the body is working on is glucose — the sugar that starches and sugars breaks down to when it is digested. Our bodies can get plenty of sugar just by eating a common sense diet composed of reasonable amounts of fruits, veggies, grains and starches and meats.

JM