Understanding natural sugar

Hello all, relatively new user here. I am a few days away from 43 years old and started really getting serious about watching what I eat a few weeks ago. I've had a history of high cholesterol and somewhat high blood pressure. I foolishly thought I was eating OK until I started really looking at what I ate and realized I was eating pretty bad! I started using MFP to help me reduce my cholesterol and sodium intake because I don't want to depend on statins or blood pressure pills if I can do something about it naturally. I have been doing very well with it and have also shed quite a bit of weight.

I am now trying to understand my other nutrients too. I spent most of my time watching my sodium and cholesterol, and more recently, sugar too. My wife has also been paying more attention to what she eats and we started talking about sugar so I came here to read more. I tried reading some other threads about sugar and saw that some just worry about calories and not so much about sugar from fruit. I haven't really been paying much attention to calories but based on a quick review of my diary, I haven't gone over them at all. I have been avoiding added sugars but have had to avoid natural sugar too because I wasn't sure. Just yesterday I was a little hungry after dinner and was going to have a dessert apple but realized I was already over my sugar for the day so I avoided it. My sugar goal was 88 yesterday, and I had 94.

My wife has a much lower sugar limit (26... which doesn't even seem fair) and she was almost over her daily sugar after some greek yogurt, a few strawberries and maybe 18 blueberries.

I don't have diabetes or any sugar sensitivity that I am aware of but I do have a sweet tooth. I am not saying I want to eat nothing but fruit but I have been a little shy about eating extra fruit or even adding a spoon or two of honey because the sugar content is so high. I would love to have a tea with a spoon or so of honey but since it was so much sugar I avoided it too. Is there really a limit on natural sugar (with common sense)? I am still focused mostly on my cholesterol and sodium but since I am eating better I might as well eat as optimum as I can.

Thank you in advance!
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Replies

  • LKArgh
    LKArgh Posts: 5,173 Member
    edited August 2020
    If you are concerned about your eating habits, ask your dr. MFP default targets are random numbers.
  • sonex825
    sonex825 Posts: 7 Member
    edited August 2020
    Not so much concerned about my eating habits as I am trying to figure out the app and how it fits into the big picture. Seems it would make sense to be able to track added sugar on a line of its own if it was so different. Might be something I ask about when I visit the doctor next time. I really look forward to seeing if the eating well has had a decent impact on my lab work.
  • sonex825
    sonex825 Posts: 7 Member
    edited August 2020
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    There is nothing magical about the sugar target MFP gives you...it's just an arbitrary % of your calorie target. Most health organizations address added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars in veg and fruit. Fruit is chalk full of vitamins and minerals and fiber and in many cases high doses of antioxidants...there's nothing wrong with fruit so long as it's not drowning out other nutritional needs.

    Makes sense. I assume honey and maple syrup is somewhere in between but a better choice than white sugar and pancake syrup.

    I guess the same goes for fats. One can eat a lot of nuts or avocado and go over the fats too but they arent "bad" fats. I put 1 TBSP of Cacao nibs in my Muesli this morning and was shocked that a serving is 3 TBSP and that full serving was worth 19% of the total fat but even crazier it was 45% of the daily saturated fat on the nutrition label!

    Is it really that bad or am I missing something?
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,870 Member
    sonex825 wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    There is nothing magical about the sugar target MFP gives you...it's just an arbitrary % of your calorie target. Most health organizations address added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars in veg and fruit. Fruit is chalk full of vitamins and minerals and fiber and in many cases high doses of antioxidants...there's nothing wrong with fruit so long as it's not drowning out other nutritional needs.

    Makes sense. I assume honey and maple syrup is somewhere in between but a better choice than white sugar and pancake syrup.

    Pancake syrup = maple syrup, or am I missing something?

    There's actually little difference. Honey may have a few more nutrients but if consumed in a reasonable amount there is no meaningful difference.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,847 Member
    (note that my judgementalness has nothing to do with the nutritional profiles of various syrups versus the real thing)
  • sonex825
    sonex825 Posts: 7 Member
    edited August 2020
    ritzvin wrote: »
    Pancake syrup in many places is this god-awful blech corn syrup - based ew monstrosity sort of pretending to be maple syrup out of cheapness.

    Yes, I mean the cheap fake syrup that is mostly corn syrup.
  • HeidiCooksSupper
    HeidiCooksSupper Posts: 3,830 Member
    Just a suggestion. A good source for science-based, up-to-date information about nutrition is "Nutrition Source" from Harvard's School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/

    I notice you talked about eating a low-cholesterol diet to have lower serum (blood) cholesterol. This reflects an older, now pretty much debunked, idea of how dietary cholesterol works for the vast majority of us.

    Unfortunately, any limiting numbers on sugar are based on "added sugar" but this is not reflected in many labels and so the database entries don't include it as a separate number. While you are trying to keep a limit on added sugars, the MFP calculator is busily counting all kinds of sugar, added and incidental. Drink a glass of milk and your sugar count will go up -- definitely not a reflection of "added sugars."

    So, ignore the sugar numbers on MFP. They are fatally flawed and have been for years. Meanwhile, concentrate on avoiding added sugars by not eating things with sugars in their lists of ingredients. For example, Skippy peanut butter's list of ingredients is "roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed, soybean and rapeseed oil) to prevent separation, salt." Teddy Bear peanut butter's list is only "peanuts, salt."
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,870 Member
    About the new label with added sugar and some basic but not bad information about added sugar and nutrition: https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/added-sugars-new-nutrition-facts-label
  • sonex825
    sonex825 Posts: 7 Member
    I notice you talked about eating a low-cholesterol diet to have lower serum (blood) cholesterol. This reflects an older, now pretty much debunked, idea of how dietary cholesterol works for the vast majority of us.

    What do you mean? Are you suggesting high cholesterol isn't bad? I had high, BAD cholesterol, and low, GOOD cholesterol.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,845 Member
    sonex825 wrote: »
    I notice you talked about eating a low-cholesterol diet to have lower serum (blood) cholesterol. This reflects an older, now pretty much debunked, idea of how dietary cholesterol works for the vast majority of us.

    What do you mean? Are you suggesting high cholesterol isn't bad? I had high, BAD cholesterol, and low, GOOD cholesterol.

    It used to be more strongly believed that eating dietary cholesterol had negative effects on blood (serum) cholesterol. More recent research suggests that dietary cholesterol intake is not as big a factor as once believed.

    I had high bad (LDL) cholesterol, and low good (HDL) cholesterol, too. And now I don't. Mostly, what changed was bodyweight, in my case. YMMV.
  • Alyssa_Is_LosingIt
    Alyssa_Is_LosingIt Posts: 4,696 Member
    sonex825 wrote: »
    I notice you talked about eating a low-cholesterol diet to have lower serum (blood) cholesterol. This reflects an older, now pretty much debunked, idea of how dietary cholesterol works for the vast majority of us.

    What do you mean? Are you suggesting high cholesterol isn't bad? I had high, BAD cholesterol, and low, GOOD cholesterol.

    I believe what Heidi is referring to is how more recent studies have shown little to no correlation in consumption of high dietary cholesterol to higher blood cholesterol.

    Obviously you should listen to your doctor, but for many people with higher blood cholesterol, losing weight and becoming more active will have a positive impact on your levels. Other people seem to just be genetically prone to higher cholesterol no matter how "good" they are and need to take medication.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,894 Member
    edited August 2020
    sonex825 wrote: »
    I notice you talked about eating a low-cholesterol diet to have lower serum (blood) cholesterol. This reflects an older, now pretty much debunked, idea of how dietary cholesterol works for the vast majority of us.

    What do you mean? Are you suggesting high cholesterol isn't bad? I had high, BAD cholesterol, and low, GOOD cholesterol.

    As others have said, more recent studies indicate that the correlation between dietary intake of cholesterol and blood serum levels isn't what we once thought. Essentially, your body makes the stuff...when dietary intake is low, your body makes more...when dietary intake is higher, your body produces less.

    There is a substantial link between high LDL and low HDL and heredity...outside of that, the biggest risk factor is being overweight and being inactive. At one point my LDL is pretty high...around 170 or so and my HDL was low. I lost 40 Lbs and became much more active and my levels are not in the optimal range...my LDL hovers around 92. I do tend to get spikes when my exercise level dips as I'm also fighting an uphill hereditary battle. Literally everyone in my extended family has cholesterol issues, even if they aren't overweight.

    I don't go out of my way to eat a lot of dietary cholesterol, but I also don't avoid things like eggs or shell fish either.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,870 Member
    edited August 2020
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    sonex825 wrote: »
    I notice you talked about eating a low-cholesterol diet to have lower serum (blood) cholesterol. This reflects an older, now pretty much debunked, idea of how dietary cholesterol works for the vast majority of us.

    What do you mean? Are you suggesting high cholesterol isn't bad? I had high, BAD cholesterol, and low, GOOD cholesterol.

    It used to be more strongly believed that eating dietary cholesterol had negative effects on blood (serum) cholesterol. More recent research suggests that dietary cholesterol intake is not as big a factor as once believed.

    I had high bad (LDL) cholesterol, and low good (HDL) cholesterol, too. And now I don't. Mostly, what changed was bodyweight, in my case. YMMV.

    I think this varies by person. It's a minority of people but helps for some. Similarly, some people also find that decreasing sat fat helps with cholesterol. My dad (who was never overweight and always active tried that on dr's advice) and found it to help.
  • jjalbertt
    jjalbertt Posts: 98 Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »

    Pancake syrup = maple syrup, or am I missing something?

    Pancake syrup is "artifical", and sold as a substitute for maple syrup. Typically it's just corn syrup or glucose syrup
    Real maple syrup comes from a tree and has antioxidants and other benefits. It's also way more expensive in comparison and tastes like heaven.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,870 Member
    edited August 2020
    jjalbertt wrote: »
    lemurcat2 wrote: »

    Pancake syrup = maple syrup, or am I missing something?

    Pancake syrup is "artifical", and sold as a substitute for maple syrup. Typically it's just corn syrup or glucose syrup
    Real maple syrup comes from a tree and has antioxidants and other benefits. It's also way more expensive in comparison and tastes like heaven.

    I've always understood "pancake syrup" to mean maple syrup (so I strongly disagree with the claim "typically" -- maybe it's regional or generational. Interesting to learn that there are other kinds of syrup, but weird to call them "pancake syrup" as if most people didn't usually think of maple syrup as the prime kind of syrup for pancakes. I knew there were low cal options, but they are usually made with sugar substitutes and people call them syrup subs or low cal syrups. I didn't actually know there were high cal sugary syrups that were not maple (and again I think they need a better name than "pancake syrup" since for me pancakes mean maple syrup and I doubt I'm unusual on that).

    So that all said, I totally disagree that one should assume "pancake syrup" = something other than maple syrup.