Sugar consumption has risen to an all time high. The average American eats somewhere around 20 teaspoons of sugar every day (estimates vary, depending on which study is consulted); this translates to about 66 pounds of added sugar per year. However, some people are consuming much more than that, maybe even twice as much.
Some Starbucks' drinks may have as much as 25 teaspoons of sugar in one drink, according to Action on Sugar, a British campaign group. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services states that 200 years ago the average American ingested about 2 pounds of sugar per year and today consumes about 152 pounds per year (that's almost 3 pounds of added sugar per week). This indicates that many Americans now consume, in one week, the same amount of sugar that it took their ancestors an entire year to consume!
There was a time not that long ago when sugar was mostly in desserts. Now, it’s showing up in everyday foods like peanut butter, marinara sauce, and yogurt. You may have heard that sugar wrecks your teeth, packs on the pounds, and can contribute to diabetes. But you may not know about other problems that are linked to a sweet tooth.
Sugar Considered as Addictive as Cocaine
James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, published a review of dozens of studies and concluded that refined sugar is similar to cocaine and that studies show it can be as addictive as cocaine. He noted that: "When you look at animal studies comparing sugar to cocaine, even when you get the rats hooked on IV cocaine, once you introduce sugar, almost all of them switch to the sugar."
The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that in both animals and humans, the evidence shows significant parallels and overlap between drugs of abuse and sugar, from the standpoint of brain neurochemistry as well as behaviour.
Sugar Makes You Age Faster
Sugar is a major cause of glycation inside your body—a process wherein sugar binds to protein or fat and forms advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs contribute to inflammation and are connected with visible signs of aging (including wrinkles, especially on the face), type 2 diabetes and a variety of other diseases. Overconsumption of sugar can make you age faster and more visibly, and it can shorten your lifespan. Limiting or omitting sugar can be key to longevity and a younger looking appearance.
Sugar is Actually Worse for Your Heart Than Fat or Salt
Fat and salt have been trumped by sugar as being most implicated in heart disease. James DiNicolantonio, in his review of dozens of studies, concluded that sugar is more dangerous than salt when it comes to cardiovascular risk.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported that “people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are more likely to have a buildup of cholesterol-filled plaque in their arteries, to develop cardiovascular disease, and to die from it.” Sugar can cause fat to accumulate in your liver. It’s known as lipogenesis—a process whereby sugar causes little fat droplets to collect in your largest internal organ of elimination.
In 2010 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that showed “people who ate the most sugar had the lowest HDL (good cholesterol) and the highest blood triglyceride levels.”
With all these studies and overwhelming evidence that sugar causes major problems, most people have been convinced that it’s time to ditch the sweets, or at least moderate them a lot more. It’s not that hard, really. With a little effort, wise shopping, reading labels, and making yummy treats with natural sweeteners, you can keep the white villain at bay.