Why do we need sugar in our diets?

Most of us know that consuming too much sugar can increase our risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes, gum disease, heart disease and cancer. However, we can’t eliminate all sugar from our diet because our bodies need it to stay healthy. Here are three reasons why we need sugar in our diets, along with some tips on how much and what type of sugar we should be eating.

1. Glucose is essential for survival

There are several different types of sugar, with the most important one being glucose. Glucose is a monosaccharide, which means it is comprised of a single sugar molecule. Galactose, which occurs in milk, and fructose, which occurs in fruit, are also monosaccharides. Glucose is the only type of sugar the body needs to survive. It’s essential for normal functioning of the brain, the central nervous system and red blood cells. 

Our body makes glucose by breaking down food molecules. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are all sources of glucose, but carbohydrates are the richest source. There’s no need to consume any additional sugar for the body to function correctly if you’re consuming the recommended amount of 130 grams of carbohydrates each day.

2. Naturally occurring sugars offer additional nutrients

Foods that contain naturally occurring sugars also contain vitamins and minerals that the body requires to stay healthy. If we were to avoid foods that contain natural sugars, we’d have difficulty getting all of the nutrients we need. When we crave sweet foods, it’s sensible to eat sweet whole foods such as fruits, nuts and seeds, which contain fibre and various vitamins and minerals in addition to fructose. This is healthier than eating candy, baked goods, chocolate and other sweet processed foods that lack additional nutrients.

3. Sugar can give us an energy boost

Sugar is a source of energy, which is why we often find ourselves craving sugar when we’re feeling fatigued. The best way to fuel our bodies is to consistently eat a balanced diet that contains complex carbohydrates that our body gradually breaks down into glucose for a slow and steady stream of energy. 

Potatoes, whole grain bread, beans and oats are all examples of complex carbohydrates. In moments where we feel particularly low in energy and want a boost, it’s helpful to snack on foods that contain natural sugars. These give a mild boost in energy that is less extreme than with foods that contain added sugars. Fruit is a great snack to have in between meals if you need a healthy pick-me-up.

Sugar is good in moderation

Sugar has a bad reputation because often we eat too much of the wrong types of sugar. On average, Americans consume around 13% of their total calories on added sugars when it should be less than 10%. By avoiding refined sugars and choosing more whole foods that contain natural sugars, we can make sugar a part of our diet without worrying about our health.

Are you convinced? Find some sweet heathy and vegan recipes on the blog.

Picture by Christina Rumpf on Unsplash

This is a guest post written in collaboration with Kelly Peterson. In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.