Nowadays, sugar is more common in households and our diet than salt. We use it widely throughout our meals and beverages, not to mention deserts. Most products at the supermarket contain some sort of sugar based ingredients and our sweet tooth is constantly obliged by a wide variety of sweets, cakes, candy bars and so on. But if so far most of us imagined sugar and high fructose corn syrup are harmless, a new study shows they are equally as toxic.
On Sunday, thanks to the common edition of 60 Minutes one question was on everybody’s lips: Is sugar toxic? Such shows tend to change the way we look at one of the most common ingredients in our diets, such as sugar and turn it from a harmless indulgence to a guilty and potentially dangerous pleasure.
The 60 Minutes Sunday show presented a study as the answer to the question whether or not sugar is toxic. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on a new study published in the journal Nature that proved sugar and high fructose corn syrup are just as harmful to our health as alcohol and tobacco. The research ruled that due to their toxicity sugar and derived compounds should be regulated under the same scrutiny as tobacco is for instance.
Laura Schmidt, Robert Lustig and Claire Brindis are the researchers that have managed to change the way we look at sugar. Before this study, we often imagined one spoon of sugar more in our coffee or tea, or a candy bar with a high content of sugar would only mess with our weight. However, these researchers believe the sugar intake is one of the main reasons why America today is struggling with a health crisis.
In his interview with 60 Minutes’ Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Robert Lustig, one of the authors of the study, explained he believes sugar is toxic even if it sounds to be a little bit over the top. Lustig explained that sugar consumption is linked to the development of several diseases that aren’t that easy to manage, such as obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension and even heart disease.
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a calorie-providing sweetener used to sweeten foods and beverages, particularly processed and store-bought foods. It is made by an enzymatic process from glucose syrup that is derived from corn. A relatively new food ingredient, it was first produced in Japan in the late 1960s, then entered the American food supply system in the early 1970s. HFCS is a desirable food ingredient for food manufacturers because it is equally as sweet as table sugar, blends well with other foods, helps foods to maintain a longer shelf life, and is less expensive (due to government subsidies on corn) than other sweeteners. It can be found in a variety of food products including soft drinks, salad dressings, ketchup, jams, sauces, ice cream and even bread.
There are two types of high fructose corn syrup found in foods today:
- HFCS-55 (the main form used in soft drinks) contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose.
- HFCS-42 (the main form used in canned fruit in syrup, ice cream, desserts, and baked goods) contains 42% fructose and 58% glucose.
Recommendations from the American Heart Association - not a part of official U.S. dietary guidelines — say that most American women should consume no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar from any source, and that most American men should consume no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar, and that even less is better. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men.
It’s prudent to consume any added sugar only in moderation. Consider these tips to cut back:
- Avoid sugary, nondiet sodas. Drink water or other unsweetened beverages instead.
- Choose breakfast cereals carefully. Although healthy breakfast cereals can contain added sugar to make them more appealing to children, skip the non-nutritious, sugary and frosted cereals.
- Eat fewer processed and packaged foods, such as sweetened grains like cookies and cakes and some microwaveable meals.
- Snack on vegetables, fruit, low-fat cheese, whole-grain crackers, and low-fat, low-calorie yogurt instead of candy, pastries and cookies.
For Dr. Robert Lustig it became clear that sugar consumption needs more focus and public education. He is behind an anti sugar campaign that is just on the verge of going viral.
Posted by Life Coach Mara