Mary Poppins said that a “spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” While that may be true, the spoonful of sugar might actually make the medicine a requirement! Yes, it seems that sugar can actually make you sick. And it may be worse than you thought.
Sugar is a very popular ingredient, and our modern diet is full of it. The FDA, our food watchdog, considers processed sugar “generally safe” which means that processed food can contain as much sugar as the manufacturer wants, without any sort of warning label at all.
A recent research study compared the health of people who ate a “normal” amount of sugar (around 18% of their calories came from processed sugar) to people who ate “very little” sugar (around 8%). The high-sugar group had a 38% higher risk of death from heart disease than the low-sugar group. That's right, all that sugar tripled the rate of death by heart disease!
This study focused on processed sugar, not naturally occurring sugar in fruits and vegetables. As you might expect, this research was not the best news in the world for the Sugar Association (who knew that there WAS a Sugar Association?). They mocked the study and pointed out that people had been eating “all natural” sugar for centuries.
How much sugar is safe? Your best guideline comes from the American Heart Association. They recommend that processed sugar be limited to 100 calories a day for women and 150 calories a day for men. That’s about 6 teaspoons of sugar for the gals and 9 for the guys. Does that sound like a lot? Consider that one 12 ounce can of Coke (my personal fav) contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar.
You can switch to diet soda, which has a mixed reputation. Even better? Consider a lovely glass of water, with just a squirt of lemon! Your heart will thank you.