Sugar has become the vehicle used by some nutritionists to create a new soapbox. Cut sugar to trim fat! Bust sugar! Break the sugar habit! But what are the facts?
SUGAR AND OBESITY
Many people believe that sugar is fattening and causes obesity. High intake of added sugar is associated with increased total energy intake and decreased nutrient intake. Don’t forget that many foods high in sugar, such as doughnuts and cookies, are also high in fat. Excess intake from ANY source will cause obesity. The increased availability of low-fat and fat-free foods has not reduced obesity rates in our world. In fact, the incidence of obesity is still climbing. A lot of people who eat fat-free with calorie-free products, eat more of these foods, not realizing that fat-free foods often have a higher sugar content, which makes any calorie savings negligible.
SUGAR AND HEART DISEASE
Risk factors for heart disease include a genetic predisposition, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, and obesity. Sugar by itself does not cause heart disease. However. If intake of high-sugar foods contributes to obesity, then risk increases. However, a high fat intake is more likely to promote obesity than high sugar intake. Thus, total fats, saturated fat, cholesterol, and obesity have a more important relationship to heart disease than sugar.
SUGAR AND BEHAVIOR
Parents continue to talk about kids “bouncing off the walls “at birthday parties because of “all that sugar “. So what’s going on? Most likely, the event is enhancing kids’ normal levels of excitement and enthusiasm. From a brain chemistry perspective, carbohydrates actually have a calming effect by increasing production of the sleep-inducing chemical serotonin! Control studies have found no link between sugar and hyperactivity, so blame the excitement of the party, but not the sugar, for kids “wild “behavior. Also, there is no association between high sugar intake and aggressive behavior.
Carbohydrates contribute both positively and negatively to health. On the upside, foods rich in fiber help keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy and may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. On the downside, excess sugar can contribute to weight gain, poor nutrient intake, and tooth decay. So choose wisely. Increase intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low – fat milk while keeping calorie intake under control.
Also, there is a great book about that topic, in case you are interested