We’ve heard so much about the harmful effects of sugar lately, that it may be hard to distinguish facts from fiction, and it’s left many consumers with more questions than answers. That’s a problem because, let’s face it, when we’re talking about possibly reducing something we consume (and enjoy) on a daily basis, not knowing the facts can keep us from making necessary changes in our diets.
To get the facts, health scientists at UCSF developed SugarScience.org to learn more about the latest research findings on sugar and its impact on health. Their goal? To help you make healthy choices based on clear, unbiased, scientific evidence.
So far, the evidence is clear: too much added sugar doesn’t just make us fat – it can also make us sick. Americans consume an average of 66 pounds of sugar per year. Because it’s so easily digestable, too much sugar overwhelms the liver and can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even liver disease and failure.
“The news is hard to hear,” admits Professor Laura A. Schmidt, UCSF School of Medicine. “It’s tough stuff. Just like smoking back in the 50’s, you grew up thinking everybody does this, it’s benign. Now the scientific community is in the hard position of saying something you love and think is benign is harmful to your health.”
How much is too much? The American Heart Association recommends that we don’t exceed the following guidelines for daily added sugar intake:
Men: 9 teaspoons (36 grams)
Kids: 3-4 teaspoons (12-16 grams)
Preteens & Teens: 5 teaspoons (20 grams)
Once you start to look for added sugar, you’ll find it everywhere. SugarScience.org has uncovered 61 different names for sugar in the products we consume. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that my favorite salad exhausted my entire recommended daily allowance of sugar.
But even small changes can make a big difference.
Perhaps the simplest change you can make is to stop drinking “liquid sugar.” Sugary drinks such as sodas, sports drinks and even fruit drinks are particularly harmful. If we could eliminate sugary drinks, we’d collectively cut out 37% of our sugar consumption. And there’s evidence that artificial sweeteners inflict the same kind of damage as real sugar.
But life can still be sweet. “Added sugars” don’t include the sugars we find in fruits, berries, and vegetables. That’s because when we eat them, we also get their natural good fiber, which makes the sugar harder to digest and keeps it from overwhelming the liver.
Learn more about sugar and SugarScience.org. Watch Learn the Facts about Sugar – How Sugar Impacts Your Health today.