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Sugar Attack! The Truth About Sugar

Pop Quiz! What do the following things have in common?

  1. white sugar
  2. brown sugar
  3. raw sugar
  4. natural sugar
  5. powdered sugar
  6. corn syrup
  7. molasses
  8. maple syrup
  9. honey

When comparing equal serving sizes, they all have nearly the same amount of one basic component...sugar. Take a look at the labels: 1 Tbsp. of raw sugar has 12 grams of sugar. 1 Tbsp. of maple syrup has 12 grams of sugar. 1 Tbsp. of corn syrup has 12 grams of sugar. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Dress it up any way you want...they're all sugar.

"That doesn't matter" you may say, "I eat raw sugar/honey/pure cane sugar because it's NATURAL and that's better for me!" Sorry folks, if you're saying that you're a sucker for good marketing. The element that makes all those products sweet is sucrose, and no matter what form your sucrose comes in, when you eat it it's all absorbed and processed by your body exactly the same way. That's where the problem lies.

Americans are eating more than three times as much sugar as they should and it's hidden in thousands of everyday foods. People expect to find sugar in breakfast cereals and pancakes, but did you know sugar is added to ketchup, bread and soups? Instant oatmeal, yogurt and even cheeses are loaded with sugar.

One of the reasons we're seeing so much sugar in foods today is because in the 1970s fat was targeted as a public health menace. Over the years companies have reformulated thousands of products to replace their fat with sugars. At the same time the food industry began increasing its use of high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap and tasty man-made sugar. The result is today the highest levels of sugar consumption in history...and the highest levels of obesity as well.

Sugar Names  |  WeBeFit.com Quick Card (c) 2006 - 2011
Sugar can appear on food labels
under any of these names.
  • Agave nectar
  • Agave syrup
  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Carob syrup
  • Confectioner's sugar
  • Corn sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextran
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Diatase
  • Diastatic malt
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit-juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • Grape juice concentrate
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • High-maltose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Honey lactose
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt
  • Malt Syrup
  • Maltodextrain
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw Sugar
  • Refiner's sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucanat
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Xylose
  • Yellow sugar

To understand what excess sugar is doing to our bodies, it's important to understand how it goes through our bodies.

When we eat carbohydrates our bodies convert the carbs into glucose, or blood sugar. The glucose gives us energy. Refined carbohydrates such as white rice, flour and sugar turn into glucose faster than unrefined whole grain foods, because the harder to digest fibrous outer shells from whole grains are removed.

When your body gets higher levels of glucose (from the refined carbs) it pumps out more insulin, a hormone that moderates sugar levels in the bloodstream. Unfortunately for many people the insulin then drives the blood sugar too low, leaving you feeling hungry and tired.

Protein-dense foods like chicken and egg whites are a different story. Your body breaks those foods down into amino acids that build cells. When you need energy and your carb supplies are exhausted, your body converts the amino acids into glucose but without the dramatic spikes refined carbohydrates cause.

Finally when you eat fats, your body either burns it immediately as fuel or stores it for later. You need a balanced combination of all three to stay healthy. The carbs give your body a jump-start while the protein and fats keep you fueled over the long haul.

How much sugar is OK? Don't look at food nutritional labels for guidance, they don't say.

Sugar is such a politically charged issue even the United States Department of Agriculture has avoided giving recommendations. For a reliable number we have to refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) and their report titled, Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. According to the WHO report a healthy person should get no more than 6-10% of their total calories from sugar. That works out to between 40 and 55 grams per person per day.

Click Here to visit the World Health Organization website.

To see how you're doing you should count the total number of sugar grams you eat and drink every day for a week. If you're eating too much, next issue I'll tell you how to cut back.

Part 1 2

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

7/22/2005
Updated 8/23/2006
Updated 2/1/2008
Updated 8/29/2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

It's been demonized as the "unhealthiest sugar ever created." Is it really so bad?

Sorry, it's all hysteria and no science. When ordinary sugar (sucrose) breaks down in your body, it turns into half fructose and half glucose. When HFCS breaks down it turns into... half fructose and half glucose.

Exactly the same.

There has been spectulation it could be worse, but as of February 2008 not a single definitive study showing HFCS was any different than regular sugar.

Don't bother switching from one type of sugar to another if you're trying to be "healthier." The best option is to simply reduce your intake from ALL sources of sugar.