Do you like sugar? Or is that just a silly question? Few, if any, people will say that they don’t like sugar. Maybe the better question would be: How much do you like sugar?
Scientists know that human tongues have special receptors that respond to sweet tastes. In fact, it seems that humans are born to like sugar.
Researchers don’t know exactly why we seem to be born with a sweet tooth, but it’s a common desire that most of us seem to share.
Sugar comes in many forms. Even if you wanted to eliminate all sugar from your diet, it would be almost impossible to do so.
In addition to the obvious sweet treats, sugar is in many of the things you eat. Sugar is found naturally in fruit and milk.
It’s also an ingredient in many types of foods, including yogurt, tomato sauce and salad dressing. If you look at food labels, they may not always indicate “sugar” is an ingredient.
Here are some ways sugar may be labeled:
- sucrose: white “table” sugar
- fructose: the sweetest form of sugar that combines with glucose to form sucrose, such as in corn syrup
- glucose: a form of sugar less sweet than sucrose
- lactose: milk sugar
So is sugar “bad” and to be avoided at all costs? Not necessarily! Sugar in itself isn’t harmful.
The problem with sugar arises when you eat too much of it and it becomes such a large part of your diet that it replaces other foods that are higher in nutritional value.
The key with sugar — as with just about all other foods — is moderation. Foods with a lot of added sugar, such as sodas, cookies, candy and ice cream, are usually high in calories and low in nutrition.
If you make these high-sugar foods a large part of your diet, health problems often follow. Eating too much sugar often leads to weight problems, including obesity.
Too much sugar has also been linked to diseases, like diabetes, and other health problems, such as tooth decay. Some people believe that too much sugar can lead to many other health problems, including high cholesterol.
So how much is too much sugar? Researchers estimate that most Americans eat about 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. That’s equivalent to about 355 calories’ worth of sugar.
But rather than naturally occurring sugar in fruits and milk, experts believe it is the added sugar in low-nutrition foods, like sodas and snacks, that's causing Americans the most harm.
Instead of eliminating sugar altogether, experts recommend reducing the amount of sugar you eat. Eating sugar in moderation allows you to minimize the risk of sugar-related health problems while still enjoying many of the foods that still contain sugar.
Experts recommend that women limit themselves to about six teaspoons (or 100 calories) of sugar each day. Men should try to limit themselves to no more than nine teaspoons (or 150 calories) each day.