Sugars can be natural or added to foods. It is impossible to cut sugar out of your diet completely because sugars are naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products. However, you may benefit from reducing or cutting out added sugars from your diet as long as you eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods and do not replace sugars with other unhealthy components, such as saturated fats.
Promote Weight Control
Sugars are carbohydrates with 4 calories per gram, and cutting added sugars out of your diet can help you lose weight or prevent weight gain by reducing the total number of calories that you eat. Many of the top sources of calories in the typical American diet are foods with added sugars, such as ice cream, baked goods, including cakes, cookies, pies and doughnuts, candies and sugar-sweetened soft drinks and energy drinks, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Regulate Blood Sugar
You may have better control over your blood sugar levels when you avoid added sugars because of their high glycemic index, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. The glycemic index of foods with carbohydrates indicates their potential effect on your blood sugar levels, and high-glycemic foods can lead to sharp spikes in your blood sugar after you eat them. A high-glycemic diet, which be high in sugars, may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. Refined grains are also high-glycemic. Keep in mind that the glycemic index does not consider the nutrient content of a food, and low-glycemic foods may be low in nutrients or high in unhealthy fats.
Too many added sugars may increase levels of triglycerides in your blood and raise your risk for heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic. If you have high triglycerides, reducing your intake of added sugars may lower your triglycerides. Other dietary changes for healthy triglyceride levels are to choose whole grains over refined grains, limit intake of saturated fats and trans fats, and eat unsaturated fats, such as from olives, nuts, canola oil, peanuts and olive oil. Physical activity, with your doctor’s approval, may benefit your triglycerides.
Cutting sugar out of your diet may lower your risk of developing cavities. You have a high risk for tooth decay if you chew gum, drink sugary beverages or suck on candies because bacteria can ferment sugars for as long as they stay in contact with your teeth. However, eliminating added sugars from your diet does not guarantee healthy teeth because you can get tooth caries when any kind of carbohydrates remain on your teeth for long periods of time, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Flossing your teeth regularly, rinsing your mouth with water and brushing your teeth after a meal can promote healthy teeth.
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center; Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load; Jane Higdon; December 2005
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010; January 2010
- Mayo Clinic: Added Sugar: Don’t Get Sabotaged by Sweeteners