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The Good

Sugar: It's Everywhere

A Growing Trend

Have you ever thought about how much sugar you consume in a day? How about a year? The answer may shock you. Recent studies claim the average American consumes upwards of 150-pounds of added sugar a year. Averaging around a 1/4 of a lb. each day. The American Heart Association recommends 5 teaspoons of sugar a day for women, 9 teaspoons for men and 3 teaspoons for children. Consider this, there are 120 teaspoons in one pound. So, 30 teaspoons equals 1/4 pound. The average 12 oz. soda has about 7.5 teaspoons of sugar. Drinking just four sodas will meet the 1/4 lb. mark. You may be asking yourself, where does all this added sugar come from?

Sources of Sugar

The obvious culprits of excessive sugar are foods like like candies, cakes, cookies, and pies. It may surprise you to know that most of the foods Americans eat are high in added sugar, even if they aren’t explicitly sweet. Foods like: bread, salad dressings, barbecue sauces, soup, hot dogs, ketchup, crackers, milk, peanut butter and even pickles. Most processed foods have more added sugar that you’d think.

What is Sugar?

The common held belief is that sugar is sugar is sugar. In fact, not all sugar is the same. There are natural sugars, the kind found in apples and then there are manufactured sugars, like high fructose corn syrup. By definition, sugar is a simple carbohydrate made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Table sugar aka sucrose, is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Every type of sugar is a combination of glucose and fructose molecules with varying percentages. Sugar is essential for daily life. It is the body’s main source of energy. When sugar is consumed, it travels to the liver to be broken down into glucose and fructose. Glucose is preferred over fructose. It can be metabolized throughout the body. Glucose is either used immediately or stored as glycogen in the muscles or liver for later use. Fructose on the other hand can only be metabolized in the liver. Meaning it stays there until needed. Fructose is typically converted immediately into glycogen and stored. Unlike fructose, glucose causes a rise in blood sugar levels. Meaning it will give you a brief burst of energy. Since fructose does not raise blood sugar levels, it does not cause the release of the hormone leptin. Leptin is essential for regulating energy intake and expenditure. In other words, it is your body’s fuel gauge. Telling your brain you’ve had enough to eat and you are full. Here’s some food for thought (no pun intended), foods that are marketed as diet, reduced calorie, low-fat and fat-free are usually higher in sugar, mainly fructose. The added sugar makes up for the bad taste that most diet foods suffer from, when fat and carbs are removed. Which may explain why people tend to eat more when it’s diet food.

 

For More Information:

Sugar Consumption in America  (Bamboo Core Fitness)

FAQ’s About Sugar  (American Heart Association)

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