With numbers of overweight and obese individuals on the rise in the U.S., the topic of sugar shows up often in the press. Not surprisingly, the news isn't good. According to the American Dietetic and Diabetic Association, increased sugar consumption raises risks for the development of degenerative disease. Sugar can trigger mood swings, cause irritability and changes in personality, and exacerbate asthma, arthritis, and heart disease.
Here are ten more interesting sugar facts you may not know.
- Sugar is addictive…literally. When people consume sugar, an opiate-like substance is released that triggers the reward system in the brain.
- In the last ten years, sugar consumption in the U.S. increased by 23 percent.
- On average, each person in the U.S. consumes a whopping 61 pounds of refined sugar every year. Twenty-five of the 61 pounds of sugar comes from candy.
- While it contains plenty of calories, refined sugar offers no nutritional value whatsoever.
- Although it may be hard to fathom eating 16 sugar cubes at one time, that is a little less than the amount of sugar hiding in one 20-ounce bottle of cola.
- Most people know that sugary soft drinks contribute to weight gain, but so do beverages containing artificial sweeteners. A study from Purdue University showed that rats given liquids containing artificial sweeteners consumed more total calories than rats given liquids sweetened with sugar.
- Low-fat often does not mean low sugar. Many companies that produce low-fat products (like milk, cheese, and more) increase sugar levels for extra flavor.
- Through a process called glycation, excess sugar in the blood binds to collagen in the skin and makes it less elastic. This can contribute to the formation of wrinkles.
- Sugar makes the digestive system overly acidic. This depletes the body of essential minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
- People with high-sugar diets who suddenly stop consuming it can experience withdrawal symptoms like depression, fatigue, and body aches.
Tips for Reducing Daily Sugar Consumption
After reading this list of interesting sugar facts, people gain a new understanding of how sugar harms the health. A few easy tips can help individuals reduce their daily sugar intake and take better control of their health and body weight.
- Read grocery labels, and cut down on hidden sources of sugar like fructose, glucose, lactose, maltodextrin, and dextrose.
- Get sugar naturally through whole fruits, but avoid fruit juice, which contains concentrated amounts of natural sugar.
- Use pure, organic stevia to sweeten coffee and tea.
- Substitute sugary sodas or diet sodas with coconut water or ice water with a spritz of lemon.