Yes, they are! Humans are hardwired to prefer sweets from the time they are born. Sugars are a type of carbohydrate and when we eat them, they stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin. Most brain cells are affected in some way by serotonin. This includes brain cells related to mood, sleep, memory and learning and appetite. No wonder sweet things make us feel so good!
Following are some more interesting facts about the wonderful world of sweets!
The average American eats and drinks 20 teaspoons – or almost half a cup – of added sugar every day!
That’s far more than the American Heart Association recommends, which is 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men. Our sweets add up; in fact, the average American eats about 152 pounds of sugar in just one year.
Which sweetener comes from an actual plant?
Stevia sweeteners are made from the leaf of the stevia plant. They can be as much as 300 times sweeter than regular sugar, but have zero calories. For a sweetener, stevia often can have a bitter aftertaste. Because the stevia leaf has to be processed to make the sweetener, some question whether stevia can really be called all natural.
On food labels, the amount of sugar is listed in grams. What’s 1 gram of sugar?
Think about a teaspoon of sugar – that’s what about 4 grams of sugar looks like. A 12-ounce can of regular cola has about 32 grams – or 8 teaspoons – of sugar!
Where do added sugars often hide?
Soda, fruit drinks and juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 source of added sugar in American diets. A recent study found that drinking one or two sugary drinks a day increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 26% compared with those who limit sweet drinks to just one a month.
When grocery shopping, what is the best way to avoid foods with added sugar?
The outside walls of a supermarket tend to be where staples are stocked. That’s so shoppers have to move through the entire store to get to necessities like produce, milk, eggs, breads, meats, and fish, which also happen to be the basis of a healthy diet that’s low in added sugars. To avoid the sugar trap, shop around the outside aisles of the market.
So there you have it…go forth and make wise choices!