Foods Worse than Table Sugar? You Don't Want to Know
You don’t need a nutritionist to tell you that sugar isn’t good for you.
Sugar raises blood sugar, reduces HDL cholesterol, skyrockets triglycerides, triggers abnormal insulin surges, makes us hungry. It also converts the less-harmful large LDL particles to the much more harmful small LDL particles. Sugar also makes you hungry in a cycle of eating followed by insatiable hunger. Sugar makes you fat, especially around the middle.
Obviously, table sugar is not good for you. The content of white table sugar in the American diet has exploded over the last 100 years, totaling over 150 lb per year for the average person. (Humans are not meant to consume any. The closest primitive humans ever came to sugar was their rare exposure to honey, which became available only seasonally.)
So, no surprise, we should avoid sugar and foods rich in sugar.
You know what’s worse than sugar?
First of all, there are a number of ways to view the blood sugar-raising or insulin-provoking effect of foods.
One way is glycemic index (GI), which is simply a measure of how high blood sugar is raised by a standard quantity of a food compared to table sugar. Another is glycemic load (GL), which is the glycemic index multiplied by the carbohydrate content per serving.
Table sugar has a GI of 65, a GL of 65. In other words, a GI or GL of 65 is sufficient to generate the cascade of undesirable blood effects.
How about some other foods?
The GI of Rice Krispies cereal (“organic” or not) is 82-higher than table sugar. GL is 72, also higher.
How about Corn Flakes? GI 81, GL 70, also both higher than sugar.
How about rice cakes that many dieters will use to quell hunger? GI 78, GL 64.
How about Shredded Wheat cereal? GI 75, GL 62.
All of the above foods with GI’s and GL’s that match or exceed that of table sugar are made with wheat, cornstarch, or rice starch. Some, like Shredded Wheat cereal and rice cakes, don’t even have any added sugar. The blood sugar-raising, appetite-increasing, and cholesterol-distorting effects are, in the absence of added sugar, due to the wheat, cornstarch, or rice starch alone.
Some foods like this even bear “heart healthy” claims. (In past, low-fat was equated with “heart healthy,” resulting in hundreds of processed foods that bear this patently ridiculous claim despite flagrant sugar-increasing effects. Thus, Cocoa Puffs, Berry Kix, and Count Chocula proudly bear “heart healthy” marks on their packages.)
In my view, we should stay clear of these foods if you have low HDL, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, or small LDL. Or, for that matter, if you are human.
William R. Davis is a Milwaukee-based American cardiologist and author. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Heart Health and High Cholesterol.