“Dad, we need to watch ’60 Minutes,’” I told my dad. “They’re advertising an interesting story on the consequences of eating sugar.” So I flipped the channel from the NCAA Final Four women’s basketball tournament to CBS – and I’m glad I did.
In the story, “60 Minutes” correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig, who is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California-San Francisco. Dr. Lustig voiced some interesting concerns about the amount of sugar in today’s diet and linked it to obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. He identified a variety of foods that he believes are bad, including table sugar, honey, syrup, sugary drinks, desserts and processed foods with high fructose corn syrup, such as yogurts, sauces, bread and peanut butter.
Dr. Gupta also spoke with Dr. Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist at the University of California-Davis, who is working on a five-year research study that already is indicating that eating a lot of high fructose corn syrup increases the risk factors for both heart disease and stroke. Her research is suggesting that calories from these sugars are different from calories from other foods and led to increased blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and other risk factors within two weeks.
Dr. Lewis Cantley, a Harvard University professor and the head of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center, also told Dr. Gupta about his research that is finding links between consuming sugar and cancer. Dr. Cantley said that consuming sugar causes a sudden spike in insulin, which serves as fuel to certain kinds of cancer, such as breast and colon cancers. Thus, sugar is helping the cancer tumors grow.
And it is really surprising where you may find sugar. For instance, in 2009 U.S. News and World Report identified 11 foods and beverages we consume that are high in additional sugar. These include fortune cookies, flavored liquors, baked beans, dried and sweetened cranberries, ketchup, cream substitutes, barbecue sauce, reduced salad dressings, lemonade, flavored popcorn and granola bars.
So how much additional sugar should you consume? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that men should limit sugar consumption to 150 calories per day (approximately nine teaspoons) while women should aim for 100 calories a day (six teaspoons) from added sugar.
All of this information has me thinking more about reading food labels. I currently only really look at the labels regarding salt, due to Dad’s high blood pressure. But where do you look? “The Dietary Guidelines advise to consume sugar only in moderation, but much of the sugar in our diets is hidden, as it is already added to the foods we eat,” the Colorado State University (CSU) Extension website stated. “By reading food labels and becoming more aware of the sugar content of every day foods, it is easier to reduce the total amount of sugar in our diets. Food labels list ingredients in order of amount present in the food, from most to least. If sugar is listed as one or is more of the first three ingredients, the product is considered high in sugar.” There are multiple types of sugar to look for, including dextrose, lactose, sucrose, levulose, fructose, evaporated can juice, maltose, corn syrup, maple sugar, glucose, turbinado, brown rice syrup, granulated sugar, mannitol, molasses, milk sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sorbitol, honey, xylitol, invert sugar and maltitol.
The AHA also has some recommendations on how to reduce sugar in the diet, such as:
- Avoid fruit canned in syrup. Opt instead for fresh fruit or fruits canned in water or natural juice.
- Decrease the amount of sugar in baking recipes by one-third to one-half.
- Use spices instead of sugar.
- Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar when cooking.
- Add fresh fruit or dried fruit in place of sugar to cereal or oatmeal.
Primary Source for this Sharepost:
60 Minutes. (April 1, 2012). Is sugar toxic? CBS News.
Published On: April 02, 2012