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Sugar Highs: How Those Wonderful Treats Impact Your Health

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  • Post last modified:October 11, 2023
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Ultra-sweet foods are so prevalent today that those ‘sugar highs’ have become normal, and we may not even notice that it’s happening anymore. We’ll take a deep dive on sugary foods in this article to understand the different sources of sugar (it’s not necessarily sweet!) and how it affects our health.

What is Sugar?

One prevalent form is table sugar, or sucrose, comprising equal parts glucose and fructose. To offer a clearer picture, when you enjoy a teaspoon of table sugar, you’re essentially taking in around half a teaspoon of glucose and half a teaspoon of fructose

On the other hand, let’s consider a natural source of sugar like an apple. While an apple contains sugar, it’s a combination of fructose and glucose, just like table sugar but in different proportions. A medium-sized apple, for instance, contains approximately 9 grams of fructose and 2 grams of glucose. This natural sugar is accompanied by fiber, vitamins, and minerals that provide various health benefits.

Glucose is a primary source of energy for the body’s cells. It is essential for providing energy to fuel various bodily functions and activities. When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose during digestion. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can be transported to cells for energy.

Fructose is another natural sugar found in fruits and some vegetables. It is metabolized primarily in the liver and can be used as an energy source. Fructose is metabolized differently from glucose. It is converted into glucose or stored as glycogen in the liver for later use. Excessive fructose consumption, especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (found in many processed foods and sugary beverages), can lead to various health concerns.

The truth about carbohydrates and why they contribute to sugar highs

When you eat carbs, like those in bread, rice, and potatoes, your digestive system breaks them down into glucose.

The process begins in your mouth, where saliva starts breaking down carbs. Further digestion takes place in the stomach and reaches its peak in the small intestine. During this process, glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream from the small intestine, temporarily increasing blood sugar levels. In response to this rise, insulin is released to help regulate blood sugar. Glucose is then utilized by your cells for energy, including your brain and muscles. Any excess glucose is first stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles for short-term use. When glycogen stores are full, any surplus glucose is converted into fat for long-term storage, contributing to weight gain.

This video offers an excellent explanation of how carbohydrates make you fat.

Not all carbohydrates are the same

Grains, whether refined or complex, are high in carbs and should be taken in moderation. Although complex carbs like whole wheat bread and brown rice have some fiber content and nutrients not found in refined grains like white bread, white rice, and pasta, it would be advisable not to consume too much as they are still high in glucose and will cause fat creation if consumed in excess over time.

Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower however have very low carbohydrate content that are in the form of complex carbs, and fiber which is generally accepted as beneficial to the body for digestion.

What about natural sugar found in fruits?

fruits (Sugar Highs)
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When it comes to sugar, not all sources are created equal. Fruits, for instance, are naturally sweet and contain natural sugars like fructose, but they also come with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.

Here’s a comparison of the sugar content in various fruits and a common sugary beverages:

Fruit/BeverageSugar Content (per serving)
Can of Coca-Cola (12 oz)Approximately 39 grams
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice (8 oz)Approximately 20-25 grams
Grapes (1 cup, about 151 grams)Approximately 23 grams
Mangoes (1 cup, sliced, about 165 grams)Approximately 23 grams
Bananas (1 medium-sized banana, about 118 grams)Approximately 14 grams
Strawberries (1 cup, sliced, about 166 grams)Approximately 7 grams
Avocado (1 cup, sliced, about 150 grams)Approximately 1 gram

As you can see from the table, fruits like grapes and mangoes have sugar levels similar to those in beverages like Coke and orange juice. However, it’s essential to remember that the sugar in fruits is accompanied by valuable nutrients and dietary fiber that contribute to overall health.

While fruits provide a wide array of health benefits, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, individuals with specific dietary concerns, such as diabetes, may need to be cautious about their fruit consumption. Diabetics, in particular, may need to monitor their carbohydrate and sugar intake more closely.

For diabetics and anyone concerned about sugar intake, it’s advisable to focus on fruits with lower sugar content, such as berries (like strawberries), which contain relatively less sugar but are rich in nutrients. Additionally, portion control and balancing fruit intake with other low-carbohydrate and high-fiber foods can help manage blood sugar levels effectively.

In this article from, you will learn about food and drinks that you wouldn’t expect are high in sugar.

In conclusion, fruits are a wholesome choice for satisfying your sweet cravings, offering a myriad of nutrients and fiber that sugary beverages like soda lack. However, individuals should be mindful of their sugar intake and may opt for fruits with lower sugar content while enjoying a well-rounded diet

The Domino Effect of Excess Sugar: From Insulin Resistance to Chronic Diseases

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Sugar, particularly added sugars and highly processed carbohydrates, has become a ubiquitous part of the modern diet. While our bodies need glucose for energy, excessive sugar intake can set off a chain reaction of negative health consequences.

1. Insulin Resistance: When you consume sugar, especially in large quantities or in the form of highly refined carbs, your blood sugar levels spike. To regulate this surge, your pancreas releases insulin. However, over time, excessive sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance. Your cells become less responsive to insulin, making it harder for glucose to enter them.

2. Fat Accumulation: When insulin resistance occurs, your body compensates by producing even more insulin. High insulin levels encourage the storage of excess glucose as fat, particularly in the abdominal area (visceral fat). This can lead to weight gain and obesity.

3. Inflammation: Excess sugar consumption can trigger inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is a driving force behind various chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Inflammation can damage cells and tissues, disrupt metabolic processes, and increase the risk of chronic conditions.

4. Diabetes: The culmination of insulin resistance, fat accumulation, and inflammation can result in type 2 diabetes. In this condition, blood sugar levels remain consistently high because cells can’t effectively take in glucose. Over time, this can lead to further complications, such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and cardiovascular problems.

5. Correlation with Chronic Diseases: Excess sugar consumption isn’t just linked to diabetes; it’s also correlated with a range of other chronic diseases. High sugar intake has been associated with hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, sugar can contribute to fatty liver disease, another health issue on the rise.

6. Weight Gain and Obesity: The connection between sugar and obesity is undeniable. As excess sugar gets stored as fat, it contributes to weight gain. Obesity, in turn, increases the risk of numerous health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, joint issues, and certain cancers.

The overconsumption of sugar can set off a detrimental chain of events in the body, from insulin resistance and fat accumulation to inflammation and a heightened risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. To protect your health, it’s crucial to monitor and reduce your sugar intake, opt for

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whole foods over processed options, and maintain a balanced diet rich in nutrients and fiber.

As we’ve learned, the overconsumption of sugar and carbohydrates can have detrimental effects on our health, increasing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. To make healthier dietary choices, it’s essential to consider alternative meal options that are not only nutritious but also convenient and delicious. In today’s fast-paced world though, planning and preparing healthy meals can be both time-consuming and costly. With the constant challenge of finding nutritious food options when dining out, it’s essential to have convenient solutions at hand. That’s where meal kit services like HelloFresh come in. HelloFresh offers chef-curated recipes that prioritize high-satiety, protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, seafood, and fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens. What’s more, HelloFresh accommodates various dietary preferences, making it easy to find options tailored to your specific needs. To save time, money, and make healthier choices, I highly recommend exploring meal kit services like HelloFresh. Click here to discover their menu options and embark on your journey to better health

To conclude, there is no doubt about the harmful effects of sugar and carbohydrates. What some people fail to understand is that eating a lot of grains/wheat or crops such as potatoes can be no different than drinking a soda or eating a donut. It is wise to cut down on any of these high carb foods to help prevent the risk of getting chronic diseases. Go for high satiety protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, & seafood, and fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens. For those who want to closely monitor blood glucose levels, having a glucose reader at home or a continuous glucose monitor is an excellent idea.

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet, exercise routine, or health practices.

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Photo Credit: Top photo designed by wayhomestudio –

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