By Brevin Scott, Student at UH Manoa

WYAO Hawaii collaborates with the community through one of UH Manoa’s Nutrition classes, Community Nutrition and Nutrition Education, instructed by Jinan Banna, PhD, RD, CDN to help students translate nutrition science into terms the general public can understand using blogging as their tool.

Unhealthy sugar: “added sugar”, “sweetened beverages”, “refined grains”. Phrases that have been put forth for years associated with being unhealthy. However, why are these foods considered “unhealthy”?
Refined grains like white rice and flour are more processed making it less nutritious, and contain less fiber compared to their brown or whole wheat counter parts. Processed foods with added sugar are similar, they contain sugars not naturally present. Which increases calorie intake decreasing room for other nutrients.

Sweetened beverages easily slide their way into every meal as an exciting drink substitute. Sweetned beverages contain high levels of sugar and are over consumed because they do not take up room in your stomach. These foods can cause high blood sugar levels because they are processed, making them readily accessible to use as fuel. High blood sugar causes a number of conditions including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, increased risk of weight gain, obesity. Some studies show increased risk of cardiovascular disease as well.

Let’s face it, these groups of unhealthy sugars are also foods that we all enjoy, however, you don’t have to cut them out entirely, just moderately enjoy them. Have one cookie instead of five, or just one coke a week instead of everyday. This way you can still have the foods you enjoy and not have the accompanying illnesses with them.


Byrd-Bredbenner C, Moe G, Berning J, Kelley D. Wardlaw’s Perspectives in Nutrition . 10th ed. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.

Gropper SAS, Smith JL, Carr TP. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 7th ed. Australia: Cengage Learning; 2018.

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