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5 Reasons Why “Added Sugars” are Bad for You

We all know that sugars, especially refined, white sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup aren’t healthy. But why? Here are 5 reasons to watch carefully how much sugar you eat.

  1. Added sugars provide calories, but not nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals or fiber. Thus, they’re sometimes called, “Empty calories.” Consuming empty calories leaves us feeling full when we have not given our body what it needs to stay active and healthy.

  2. Because we consume added sugars most often when eating processed foods, e.g., sweets, candies, desserts, soft drinks, etc., we don’t recognize how many extra calories we’re getting unless there’s a label and we read it carefully. That makes it easy for the calories to add up and cause weight gain and obesity.

  3. Sugar consumption increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  4. Higher intake of added sugars was recently linked to lower good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol) and higher triglyceride levels, both of which are risk factors for coronary artery disease and heart attack.

  5. Too much added sugar contributes to dental cavities and other problems with our teeth and gums, and raises the cost of dental care.

Despite these negative effects of sugar, the most recent dietary data in the U.S. show that individuals ages 2 years and older consumed 16% of their diet as added sugars. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 5%. The healthiest diet would have none.

To reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and maintain a healthy body, the best advice about refined sugars is to follow the AHA advice. Limit the amount of white sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup to less than 100 calories per day for women (sorry ladies!) and less than 150 calories per day for men.

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© 2010 Ami Laws, M.D. All rights reserved.