What the Experts Are Saying About Sugar Now
The past few years, Americans have become aware of the adverse effects of high-fructose corn syrup, and we are checking labels to eliminate it from our diet. But increasingly, dieticians are also warning consumers against the health dangers posed by more traditional sources of sugar. A new school of thought holds that regular table sugar and even honey can harm health.
According to nutritional experts, any source of excess sugar puts you at increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Mario Kratz, a research associate professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle says that people who drink all natural sodas sweetened with pure cane sugar, for example, are endangering their metabolisms. Kratz, who specializes in nutrition, continues:
The science is pretty clear that normal household sugar doesn’t differ from high-fructose corn syrup. They are equally bad when consumed in sugar-sweetened beverages.
There are two schools of thought among researchers. Some, like Shreela Sharma, believe the threat posed by high-fructose corn syrup is unique. She postulates the body processes high-fructose corn syrup differently than it does regular sugar, with more negative health consequences in terms of diabetes and heart disease. Sharma is a registered dietitian and associate professor at The University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.
Taking the other view is Jennifer Temple, an associate professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the University of Buffalo in New York. She points out that high-fructose corn syrup is almost identical in its simple sugar composition to both sugar and honey. Other researches remind us that scientific studies have failed to demonstrate any difference in the ways high-fructose corn syrup and other sugars affect the human body.
Temple thinks the negative effects of high-fructose corn syrup are tied to economics, rather than biology. She says:
High-fructose corn syrup is cheaper to make and cheaper to use, so food companies can use it to sweeten their products and sell them to you for less money than they could if they were using sugar. High-fructose corn syrup is in everything, even things you wouldn’t think of, like bread and crackers and yogurt.
While that is true, it is also true that many “healthy” foods are heavily laced with organic sugar or honey. Sharma, the advocate of natural sugar only, warns:
I would tell anyone wanting to buy an organic cereal that contains raw sugar or cane sugar, it doesn’t matter. Given the amount of sugar we’re consuming in this day and age, the form you’re getting it in does not matter.
The bottom line is, nutritionists on both sides of this debate are united in one central recommendation: We all need to limit our consumption of sugar. For optimal health, avoid prepared foods (especially those with high-fructose corn syrup). Instead, eat foods flavored with natural herbs and spices. Moreover, to safeguard your metabolism and protect against degenerative diseases, never add sugar to your food.