Weekly Wellness: Oh, sugar, it's bad
COLUMBIA - It seems like you can't turn on the television, pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio without hearing or reading information that sugar is bad. How can something that tastes so good be so bad? How can something that has been around for so long only now be recognized as a huge problem? What do we really need to watch out for?
Well, let's first look at the history of sugar in our diet. Wikipedia tells us that the people of New Guinea were probably the first to domesticate sugarcane, sometime around 8,000 BC. It then spread rapidly to Southeast Asia, southern China, and India, where refining the juice into granulated crystals developed. Over the last 30 years or so, high-fructose corn syrup has replaced sugar in some uses, particularly in soft drinks and processed foods.
Why is this? Wikipedia suggests that "a system of sugar tariffs and sugar quotas imposed in 1977 in the United States significantly increased the cost of imported sugar and U.S. producers sought cheaper sources. High-fructose corn syrup, derived from corn, is more economical because the domestic U.S. and Canadian prices of sugar are twice the global price and the price of corn is kept low through government subsidies paid to growers."
Whether it's cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, "sugar is sugar" - and both products do bad stuff.
Among all of the research that already exists about the health threats that sugar poses, there is new research available that suggests that added dietary sugar increases the risk of death from heart disease. Diets that include too much sugar have been linked directly to a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, dementia, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia (a bad assortment of blood fats), cirrhosis of the liver, and cardiovascular disease. The crux of the 15 year study was: The more added sugar a person consumed, the greater his or her risk of dying from heart disease.
What is the simplest thing we can do to control our own sugar intake? Read! That's pretty simple, right? We need to take ownership of reading food labels and be aware of what we are putting on our plates, putting on our children's plates and putting into our mouths.
Did you know that four grams of sugar is the equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar? So, if we do the math, we can get a better idea of just how much sugar we are actually eating. It may surprise you.
The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their added sugar consumption to no more than 6 teaspoons daily, while men should not get more than 9 teaspoons. "Added sugar" means that sugar is added to the food product during processing or preparation. How can you tell if sugar is added? Read the label. If you find any type of sweetener in the ingredients, whether it's molasses, honey, sucrose, corn syrup or any other form of sugar, it's an added sugar.
What's the take-away for today? Read your labels. Pay attention to the amount of sugar added to food products. Try to limit added sugar to your diet in whatever form that sugar may present itself.
You're sweet enough just as you are. ;-)
Serving: 1/3 cup
Sugar: 11 grams
Sugar: 16 grams
Oscar Mayer Lunchables crackers, turkey & American cheese
Size: 4.2 oz package
Sugar: 17 grams
Vanilla ice cream
Size: 1/2 cup
Sugar: 20 grams
Size: 8 oz
Sugar: 26 grams
Chocolate candies (M&M)
Size: 1 pack
Sugar: 31 grams
Candy bar (Milky Way)
Size: 1 bar
Sugar: 36 grams
Size: 10 worms
Sugar: 43 grams
Size: 1 c
Sugar: 86 grams
Size: 2 liter bottle
Sugar: 234 grams