The not-so-sweet truth about sugar

The not-so-sweet truth about sugar

It’s no secret that sugar is detrimental to our health. It increases blood pressure, spikes inflammation and promotes cavities. It negatively affects our health in other ways, too:

• Too much sugar can cause insulin resistance, believed to be a leading cause of obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and other conditions.

• Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. Insulin is one of the key hormones in regulating this sort of growth. For this reason, many scientists believe that having constantly elevated insulin levels (a consequence of sugar consumption) can contribute to cancer.

• Sugar contributes to obesity in both adults and children. Over 50% of Americans are overweight.

• According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, a sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. The effects of sugar go beyond weight management.

Added sugars vs. natural sugars. There is a significant difference between natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugar (fructose) is often found in fruits like berries. Not only is fructose not harmful, these foods generally include added benefits like antioxidants and fiber.

Added sugars are found in processed foods like bread and cereals. Added sugars or sweeteners can include natural sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar and honey, as well as other caloric sweeteners that are chemically manufactured, such as high-fructose corn syrup. Consumption not only increases your daily sugar count, but the processing of these foods often reduces or eliminates key nutrients.

How much sugar is too much? It is inevitable that we will consume some sugar daily. Our goal should be to limit added sugars and our overall amount consumed. For adults, USDA dietary guidelines recommend limiting added sugar to 5% to 15% of total calories consumed. For example, a 1,500-calorie diet should be limited to 19 to 56 grams of added sugar, a 2,000-calorie diet to 25 to 75 grams of added sugar and a 2,500-calorie diet to 31 to 94 grams of added sugar.

Army veteran Jennifer Campbell is a certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in nutrition education. She is commander of the California American Legion’s 24th District.