You’ve probably heard how important it is for you to eat a nutritious, balanced diet. But did you know that sugar can make a healthy diet more palatable?

Let’s get down to the basics. Sugar is a carbohydrate, a macronutrient (along with fat and protein), that provides your body with energy. Carbohydrates are found in all plant and dairy foods and beverages that provide your body with calories. They are the preferred source of energy for the body because the majority contain glucose, which is the fuel your brain, organs, and muscles need to function.

All About Balance

If you eat more calories than you expend, no matter if the calories come from carbohydrates, proteins or fats, the excess energy is stored as added weight on your body. That’s why it’s important to balance the food you eat with regular physical activity. And, it’s important to remember that foods and beverages that don’t provide significant nutritional value (vitamins and minerals) should not be the centerpiece of your diet but consumed as treats.

Sugar, extracted from sugar beet or sugar cane or in fruits and vegetables you bite into, has been incorporated in the diets of people throughout all of time. Like many other foods and ingredients, sugars have been the subject of countless studies. And while new research will help us better understand how our food choices affect our health, the evidence consistently shows that a balanced lifestyle based on moderation, a variety of food choices, and physical activity tends to lead to the best outcomes when compared to simply focusing on cutting out or adding one ingredient or another.

Simply put: by leading a balanced lifestyle and practicing moderation and portion control, there is room to include an appropriate amount of sugar in your diet.

If you are conscious of how much sugar you consume in a day, you’re not alone. The U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) provides food-based recommendations to promote health, help prevent diet-related disease, and meet nutrient needs. According to the most recent DGA’s, a healthy diet includes up to 10 percent of calories from added sugars, allowing room for sugars in nutritious foods and occasional sweets and treats.

Remember, making sure that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other fiber and calcium-rich foods are the centerpiece of your diet is most important. Sugar makes many of these healthful foods more palatable, which helps contribute to intakes of important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Getting ready for breakfast? Go ahead, sprinkle a little brown sugar on that bowl of nutritious oatmeal. Sugar can make healthy foods taste better, so you are more likely to eat them.

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