Sugar is Sugar

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Sugar is Sugar

Too much sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth. It can harm your liver, too. The organ uses one type of sugar, called fructose, to make fat. Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup causes a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies show that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight. It’s one more reason to limit foods with added sugars, such as soda, pastries, and candy.

How many teaspoons of sugar does the average American eat and drink every day?

Answer: 22

Talk about a sweet tooth. We eat and drink 20 teaspoons — or almost half a cup — of added sugar each day. That’s way more than the American Heart Association recommends: 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men. Our sweets add up: The average American eats about 152 pounds of sugar in just one year.

Added sugars include all kinds of sugars and syrups that are put in a product during processing to make it taste better. They have little nutritional value other than giving you extra calories.

Which of these sweeteners comes from a plant leaf?

Answer: Stevia

Stevia sweeteners are made from the leaf of the stevia plant. They can be as much as 300 times sweeter than regular sugar, but have zero calories. For a sweetener, stevia often can have a bitter aftertaste. Because the stevia leaf has to be processed to make the sweetener, some question whether stevia really can be called all natural.

On food labels, the amount of sugar is listed in grams. What’s 1 gram of sugar?

Answer: 1/4 teaspoon

Think about a teaspoon of sugar. That’s what about 4 grams of sugar looks like. A 12-ounce can of regular cola has about 39 grams — or 9 teaspoons — of sugar!

Want a low-sugar option? Add only a teaspoon of sugar to iced tea and that’s only 4 grams of sugar. Or drink diet soda or unsweetened tea for zero sugar.

You’re born with a sweet tooth.

Answer: True

Humans are hardwired to prefer sweet from birth. Sugars are a type of carbohydrate. When we eat carbs, they stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Most brain cells are influenced in some way by serotonin. This includes brain cells related to mood, sexual function, sleep, memory and learning, and appetite. No wonder sweet things make us feel so good.

What is table sugar?

Answer: Sucrose

Each “ose” – indicates some type of sugar. But sucrose is the sugar found in the greatest concentration in sugarcane (a type of tall grass) and sugar beets (a root). And that’s where our table sugar comes from. Lactose is the natural sugar in milk. Sucralose is an artificial sweetener.

Eating too much sugar can cause diabetes.

Answer: False

Type 1 diabetes is genetic and triggered by unknown causes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors, but not sugar specifically. However, being overweight and eating a high-calorie diet — which often includes a lot of added sugar — can raise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

About the Author:

I am a Certified Natural Health Professional (CNHP) and a Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) (Can). I have been involved full time in Natural Health Alternatives since 2003.