It is time to think differently about added sugar. Sugar provides empty calories, but it gets worse. Added sugar is associated with high blood levels of the fats called triglycerides and harmful LDL cholesterol. A diet high in sugar is also associated with lower levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Why are these bad?
High levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and low levels of HDL cholesterol put you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. Click here for the normal blood levels.
Why does sugar do this?
Normally, when we eat carbohydrates they are digested into glucose and fat. Extra glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver, and in the body as fat.
Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose (the same as high fructose corn syrup). Different to glucose, fructose is metabolized in the liver. The products of fructose metabolism include the worst kind of LDL cholesterol, and fats. Another unpleasant fructose product is uric acid, which causes gout and raises blood pressure. Fructose can cause your liver to become fatty, leading to fatty liver disease. It can lead to excess abdominal fat, and metabolic syndrome.
The average American eats around 21 teaspoons of added sugar per day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men. Personally, I eat much less, most of the time having zero added teaspoons!
More about sugar: Watch abc-nightline-sugar-wars