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    Numbers Game: Answer

    sugar-pour1The average American adult gets 16 percent of his/her daily calories from added sugars.

    Keeping in mind that approximately 15 percent of the the average American adult’s calories come strictly from oils (of which roughly 70 percent of that is soybean oil), you’re looking at “standard” dietary practices where almost a third of calories are empty. 

    In the case of oils, one could make the case that they at least offer vitamin E (and, in the case of some oils, like olive, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat).

    When it comes to fats and sugars, the key is to get them from whole food sources.   This is not to say that oils don’t have a place in the diet (they are absolutely necessary for food preparation), but it is quite disturbing to think that many people get the vast majority of their fats only from oils!

    A medium apple, for example, contains as much sugar as an ounce of Skittles.  However, the apple contributes fiber (which helps stabilize blood glucose levels), vitamins, minerals, and literally thousands of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids that offer a variety of health benefits.  The Skittles, meanwhile, are just artificially dyed sugar chews.

    That is why I heartily disagree with some nutrition experts who go as far as saying that all sugar — whether it’s from a candy bar, a pear, or plain unsweetened yogurt — should be viewed equally.

    The same principle, by the way, applies to fats.  Flax oil does not offer the fiber and lignans found in ground flax.  Avocado oil, while certainly a good source of healthy fats, does not contain the fiber, vitamins, and minerals in whole avocado. 

    As Dr. Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan like to say, “Eat food, not nutrients”!


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