Cardiovascular health, Diabetes mellitus, Nutrition

Sweet on the sweet stuff? It isn’t sweet on you!

Added sugars can lead to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (CDC, 2016).  Added sugar refers to human-made sweeteners included in packaged foods.  These sugars do not naturally exist in whole foods such as fruit and full-fat milk.  On the food label, added sugar goes by many names:  brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose.  In the USA, women ages 51-70 consume approximately 474 kcal of added sugar daily (National Cancer Institute, 2018) or the equivalent of 29.6 teaspoons! 

Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners provide no nutritional value yet your body must use nutrients to metabolize them.  A diet full of the empty calories provided by refined sweeteners (real or artificial) contributes to the nutrient depletion already set in motion by chronic stress. 

Furthermore, the sugar-laden diet contributes to insulin resistance.  The abundance of refined sugars causes excessive blood sugar which the body will address by secreting more and more insulin.  The blood sugar imbalance caused by sweetener-heavy diet exacerbates the development of insulin resistance triggered by chronic stress!

“Unless you avoid packaged and processed foods entirely, you probably eat way more sugar than you think!  The foods available in today’s grocery stores are a veritable minefield, with added sugars hidden in nearly everything – bread, pasta sauces, salad dressings, “natural” peanut butter, “healthy” cereals, and even deli meats.”

Diane Sanfilippo, The 21-Day Sugar Detox (p. 11)

What to do?

Purge your kitchen of all added sugars.  Read the label of all packaged food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.  Toss any products that contain refined and artificial sugar. The table below lists the many names for added sugar.  

Choose less-refined naturally-derived sweeteners in moderation.  Raw honey, molasses, and 100% maple syrup do have some micronutrients but they are still refined foods.  If you must use a sweetener, opt for less-refined sources rather than white table sugar or the artificial sugars.

Preferred choices (use organic when possible):

  • Dates
  • Fruit juice (real, fresh) 
  • Honey (raw)
  • Maple syrup (dark)
  • Molasses
  • Stevia (green leaf or extract)
(Table source: Sanfilippo, 2016, p. 73)

Swap out sugar-laden condiments for primal-approved versions.   Commercially prepared mayo, ketchup, and even mustard can contain added sugars AND industrial seed oils.  Marinara and other pasta sauce also often have added sweeteners to compensate for the use of less-than-ripe tomatoes. 

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CDC. (2016, September 27). Know Your Limit for Added Sugars. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from

National Cancer Institute. (2018, April 20). Added Sugars. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from

Sanfilippo, D. (2013). The 21-day sugar detox: bust sugar & carb cravings naturally. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing Inc.

Sanfilippo, D. (2016). Practical paleo: A customized approach to health and a whole-foods lifestyle (2nd ed.). Las Vegas, NV.