Sugar in Drinks May Be Good for Stress, But Bad For Everything Else

In just two weeks, even modest doses of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) raise LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease and gout. The results are similar for HFCS and for added regular sugar in drinks.

Researchers fed 85 adults aged 18 to 40 beverages sweetened with enough high-fructose corn syrup to supply 0, 10, 17.5, or 25 percent of their calories for two weeks. Beverages with 0 percent HFCS were sweetened with aspartame. (On average, adults aged 20 to 60 get about 13 percent of their calories from HFCS, table sugar, and other added sugars, but some get far more.)

The results of testing sugar in drinks is not surprising. The higher the dose, the higher their LDL cholesterol, after-meal triglycerides, and average uric acid levels. (High uric acid is linked to a higher risk of gout.) The differences held up after the researchers accounted for the slight weight gain in the group that got the highest dose of HFCS.

How Much is Too Much Sugar?

Soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, granola bars, chocolate, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, cereal, candy. The list of sweet temptations is endless.

The average American now consumes 22 to 28 teaspoons of added sugars a day—mostly high-fructose corn syrup and ordinary table sugar (sucrose). That’s 350 to 440 empty calories that few of us can afford.

How much is too much sugar? Cutting back to 100 calories (61⁄2 teaspoons) a day for women and 150 calories (91⁄2 teaspoons) a day for men might mean slimmer waistlines and a lower risk of disease.

Are You Addicted to Sugar? (You Could Be)

Have you ever asked yourself, “am I addicted to sugar?”

“For a long time, I didn’t like the word addiction because it felt like it was a disease,” says Liz Gordon of Corpus Christi, Texas.

But she came to accept that her inability to resist sugar was more than just a sweet tooth. “It’s an obsession, a craving,” she explains.

The 4 Safest Sugar Substitutes and a Few to Avoid Completely

The best and safest artificial sweeteners are erythritol, xylitol, stevia leaf extracts, neotame, and mon fruit extract—with some caveats:

• Erythritol: Large amounts (more than about 40 or 50 grams or 10 or 12 teaspoons) of this sugar alcohol sometimes cause nausea, but smaller amounts are fine. (Sensitivities vary among individuals.) Erythritol, small amounts of which occur naturally in some fruits, is about 60 to 70 percent as sweet as table sugar and has at most one-twentieth as many calories. Unlike the high-potency sweeteners, erythritol provides the bulk and “mouth feel” of sugar.

• Xylitol: This sugar alcohol, which occurs naturally in birch and some other plants, is about as sweet as table sugar and has about three quarters of the calories. Too much xylitol (about 30–40 grams or 7–10 teaspoons, although sensitivities vary) could produce a laxative effect and/or gastrointestinal distress.

Low Sugar Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Want your kids — or other family members — to eat more fruit for breakfast? Make sure their cereal is low in sugar.

Researchers randomly assigned 91 children aged 5 to 12 to choose one of three low sugar breakfast cereals (Cheerios, Corn Flakes, or Rice Krispies) or one of three high sugar cereals (Cocoa Puffs, Froot Loops, or Frosted Flakes). The kids also had unlimited access to low-fat milk, orange juice, bananas, strawberries, and packets of sugar.

U.S. Sugar Industry Implicated in Obesity Epidemic

The U.S. sugar industry successfully used its influence to steer federal research into the prevention of tooth decay away from the role of refined sugars in the 1970s, according to newly discovered documents. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, recently found long-lost details in the archives of the University of Illinois about how the sugar industry worked 40 years ago to control the research agenda on tooth decay.