For something so sweet, sugar really can be quite awful. That’s because if you’re consuming more than 21 percent of your daily calories from added sugars, you double your risk of death from heart disease compared to people who consume just 10 percent of their calories from added sugars.
That’s according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. The researchers also found that if you consume slightly less added sugar, you’re still at a higher risk of death. Those who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugars increased their risk of death from heart disease by 38 percent.
But the key word there is “added.” Sugars that are considered “added” aren’t just a sprinkle of granulated sweetness in your morning coffee, but high-fructose corn syrup, sugars in cakes, cookies and sodas, and other processed foods. This added sugar can cause blood sugar spikes, weight gain and can leave you feeling hungry. Natural sugar—the kind found in whole fruits and milk—is different.
Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem, answers your most pressing questions about added and natural sugars below and gives some advice on how to avoid added sugars and incorporate natural sugars into your diet.
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Sugar, in every kitchen and corner store, hasn’t always been so accessible. Before we were trying to avoid it from our diets, physicians were actually dreaming up medical applications by the numbers. A few of the more interesting uses:
For ailments of the eye:
- “Take two drams of fine sugar-candy, one-half dram pearl, one grain of leaf gold; made into a very fine and impalpable powder, and when dry, blow a convenient quantity into the eye.”
- From Experiments and Observations Upon Oriental and Other Bezoar-stones, etc. etc… A Vindication of Sugars Against the Charge of Dr. Willis, Other Physicians, and Common Prejudices, by Dr. Frederick Slare (1715)From The London Practice of Physic, for the Use of Physicians and Younger Practitioners (1769 edition)
- “Take two or three lumps of treble refined sugar, the white of a new-laid egg; beat them well up together into a fine froth; mix it with a gill-glass full of the Tilbury-water, and half a gill of fresh cows-milk made warm. Drink this twice or thrice a day”
- From Discourses on Tea, Sugar, Milk, Made-Wines, Spirits, Punch, Tobacco, &c: With Plain and Useful Rules for Gouty People, by Thomas Short (1750)
“To cure Spitting of Blood, if a Vein is broken”:
- “Take mice-dung beaten to powder, as much as will lie on a six-pence; and put it in a quarter of a pint of the juice of plantane, with a little sugar: Give it in the morning fasting, and at night going to bed. Continue this some time, and it will make whole, and cure”
“Stuffing in the Lungs”:
- “Take white sugar-candy powder’d and sifted two ounces, China roots powder’d and sifted one ounce; flour of brimstone one ounce. Mix these with conserve of roses, or the pap of an apple; and take the bigness of a walnut in the morning, fasting an hour after it; and the last at night, an hour after you have eaten or drank”
- From The Gentlewoman’s Companion, by Hannah Woolley (1670)
A dressing for a bad wound:
- “Step 1: Clean the wound well using soap and warm water. Pat dry until you’re sure there is no moisture left. If debris or foreign objects are observed within the wound, extract everything and clean again. Step 2: Pour sugar directly on the wound, making sure it gets into the wound and doesn’t stick only to the surface. If the wound is large, cover it with honey first and then sprinkle sugar on top. The honey will help the sugar stay in place and provide its full healing benefits. Step 3: Cover with a bandage immediately and secure the bandage with tape. The bandage will prevent bacteria and debris from getting into the wound. Step 4: Change the bandage and repeat the cleaning and sugar application once a day. Rip off the bandage rather than pulling it softly. The hard motion will remove dead tissue and clear the wound. Step 5: Be consistent. Sugar healing is a slow process, and it can take several months for serious wounds to heal. However, you should start seeing positive results right away, as the sugar will reduce pain and throbbing in the wound and the surrounding tissues.”
Here in the new year, millions of Americans will try to cut back on sugar or drop it altogether. It’s a noble effort because sugar is devoid of nutrients, except for calories, which it has in spades.
Quick fact: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports each of us consumes 31 five-pound bags of sugar a year. That’s 267,840 empty calories from sugar alone. Still, people will be jonesing for something sweet to eat. Enter: monk fruit.
Traditionally, people used zero-calorie sweeteners to satisfy their sugar cravings at no caloric cost. Synthetic sugar substitutes, including aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda) and others, are added at the table but are mostly taken as carbonated diet drinks and low calorie foods. But consumption of those foods has taken a nosedive as of late as health conscious consumers flock to natural sweeteners. Stevia, the zero-calorie herb extract, is gaining appeal, but monk fruit is the real one to watch.
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As a nation, we clamor for the latest news on the latest celebrity baby bumps and shocking plastic surgeries. So when a Hollywood icon loses a lot of weight, you can bet every anchor on InsideTMZAccessEdition will be covering it. And yeah, we are, too. So why isn’t anyone talking about Kevin Smith? Well, we are!
The talented producer, writer, actor and self-described “goofy spaz” recently lost 20+ pounds, but unlike shaving his trademark beard and mustache (pictured below) it wasn’t for a movie. During a radio interview with the Todd-N-Tyler Radio Empire, the cult-classic filmmaker talked about his weight loss.
“I watched this documentary called Fed Up and it scared me,” he said. “It was the scariest thing I’ve seen on film. It broke down the process of storing sugar in the body in a way that I had never understood previously.”
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By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
As I got the butter out from my fridge the other day, a friend of mine commented in surprise, “You eat butter?”.
She’s right to question. For years, there was no butter in my kitchen because it contains a lot of saturated fat, which nutrition scientists believed could lead to heart disease and possibly increase the risk for cancer and even dementia. But being a nutritionist, I keep up with the food research, and things change. I started thinking of how my diet has changed over the past decade, and here are the main shifts; the ways I changed my own diet for the better.
I ENJOY BUTTER. Even after margarine was exposed as a trans fat nightmare, I still avoided butter because 63 percent of the fat in butter is saturated. I went along with the scientific thinking: If you eat too much saturated fat, levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) rise, and people with higher LDL are more likely to develop heart disease.
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