What is a sugar

  • Sugar is a carbohydrate.
  • Sugars either occur naturally as they do in fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) or they are added to foods.

The American Heart Association recommends looking at labels to help determine if sugar has been added.

Look for ingredients such as,

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sugar
  • Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
  • Syrup


  • This the type of sugar we place in our sugar bowl.
  • Sucrose is actually two simpler sugars stuck together, fructose and glucose.

What is high fructose corn syrup?

  • A chemically manufactured sugar
  • According to the FDA, “High fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch which is a chain of simple sugars (glucose)
  • When corn starch is broken down into individual glucose molecules, the end product is corn syrup, which is essentially 100% glucose.”
  • High fructose corn syrup is ‘high’ in fructose compared to the pure glucose that is in corn syrup.
  • Fructose is a fruit sugar.
  • The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone limit consumption of all added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup and sucrose.
  • Studies have shown an association of high fructose corn syrup with obesity in rats.



What should we limit our sugar intake to?

  • The WHO recommends, “limiting intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake (2, 5) is part of a healthy diet. A further reduction to less than 5% of total energy intake is suggested for additional health benefits.
  • The American Heart Association recommends that women limit themselves to about 6 teaspoons of sugar a day and men should  limit sugar intake to 9 teaspoons a day.
  • Sugar has been associated with heart disease. According to a study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine, those who consumed 20% percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar.
  • A recent article in Annal of Internal Medicine shows that recommendations are based on scanty literature, “Guidelines on dietary sugar do not meet criteria for trustworthy recommendations and are based on low-quality evidence. Public health officials (when promulgating these recommendations) and their public audience (when considering dietary behavior) should be aware of these limitations.” Reference http://annals.org/aim/article/2593601/scientific-basis-guideline-recommendations-sugar-intake-systematic-review
  • I limit my sugar based on risk of cardiovascular disease.  I am not a sweet lover either, this works out for me.

Sugar alternatives

What is sugar alcohol?

According to The American Diabetic Association,

  • Sugar alcohols are a type of reduced-calorie sweetener, they are neither sugar or alcohol.
  • They are used in sugar free foods.
  • Sugar alcohols are slightly lower in calories than sugar and do not promote tooth decay or cause a sudden increase in blood glucose  as supported by the FDA.

Examples include,

  • Erythritol
  • Glycerol
  • isomalt
  • lactitol
  • maltitol
  • mannitol
  • sorbitol
  • xylitol

Sugar substitutes

Diet soda and weight gain.

  • Purdue researchers Susan Swithers, PhD, and Terry Davidson, PhD, published their studies in rats which showed that mice who were fed artificial sweeteners tended to gain weight.”The data clearly indicate that consuming a food sweetened with no-calorie saccharin can lead to greater body-weight gain and adiposity than would consuming the same food sweetened with a higher-calorie sugar,” the authors wrote.

References https://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2008a/080211SwithersAPA.html

  • Some researchers feel that diet sodas do not cause weight gain, the diet itself is what causes weight gain.
  • The use of these calorie sweeteners may increase craving for sweets.
  • The researcher conclude that it is not clear whether diet sodas or cravings for sweets affects weight gain.
  • Their argument, “Calorie-free sweeteners could help people control their weight, if used instead of higher-calorie sweeteners.”

Reference https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056571

  • It may be that those who eat artificial sweeteners develop a sweet tooth with a greater need for sweet foods which can add calories.

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