Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is Sugar Toxic?



A recent 60 minutes special entitled “Is Sugar Toxic?” has caused quite a stir within both nutrition professionals and the general public.  For years there have been debates among nutrition professionals as to whether sugar is the cause and or contributor to obesity.  Ironically over the past decade sugar and fructose consumption has declined, while obesity rates continue to soar.

The negatives of sugar
Many recent studies have concluded that excessive added sugar intake can lead to increased risk of heart disease, especially contributing to elevating triglyceride levels.  Indirectly consuming a large amount of sugar can also increase your risk of diabetes.  Lastly, it is of no surprise that sugar consumption is linked with poorer dental health.

With that being said….
I do not agree with completely limiting any food group in the efforts of healthy eating. I am a firm believer that sugar consumed in small amounts can be part of a healthy diet.  If you are able to find balance in your diet and include plenty of the fruits, vegetables, and lean protein there should also be room for a little sugar once and a while.  Many of my clients have been able to consume small amounts of sugar and remain within a healthy weight and small risk of developing disease.  The key is portion control.

How much sugar can I have?
Most organizations recommend limiting your added sugar intake to only 5-10% of your total daily caloric intake.  So if you consume about 2,000 calories a day, you should not go above 100 calories per day from sugar.  More specifically recommendations are gender and age based.  For example women are recommended not to exceed 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, while the limit for men is 9 teaspoons per day (each teaspoon equals 4 grams and each gram produces 4 calories).  According to the American Heart Association children’s added sugar intake should not exceed the range 130-250 calories per day (depending on age).  

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