For the past 60 years, the nutritional emphasis has mistakenly been on dietary fat. Slowly, new research is proving that caloric sweeteners and starches are the real culprits in the diet. Even more, it’s just been revealed that important research information about the link between sugar and coronary heart disease was deliberately withheld from the public.
On September 12, 2016 the results of a study by Kearns, et al, was published in the JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association] that points to the sugar industry as a manipulator of dietary research information The subterfuge happened back in the 1950s and 1960s, but didn’t get noticed or acknowledged until now. The public outrage has been so great, the sugar association just published an apology (of sorts) on its www.sugar.org website. Here it is:
We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today. Beyond this, it is challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.
The bottom line: Sugar went under the national and world radar and stayed there for a half-century. In the meantime, as a nation, we got fatter. In the 1970s, before eating guidelines were introduced, the national adult obesity rate was around 12% and national fat consumption was estimated at around 40% of total daily calories. Today the national obesity rate is about 36% and the national fat consumption rate is around 34% of daily calories, a statistically significant achievement that did not happen by accident. What happened?
Here are some milestones to consider:
People think glucose is bad and fructose is good. Glucose gets bad press because it’s associated with type 2 diabetes and weight gain. It’s also recognized as the villain in the glycemic index. Fructose, on the other hand, seems like it should be healthier because of its association with fruit.
The truth is that glucose and fructose are equally problematic to health and weight. The glucose portion of the caloric sweetener compound ends up in the bloodstream, which raises blood sugar, which raises insulin production, which makes you fat and sick. The fructose portion goes directly to the liver and is converted to triglycerides, which makes you fat and sick. (Don’t worry about the small amount of fructose in a fresh piece of fruit.)
High blood sugar and high triglycerides are both undesirable metabolic conditions that are implicated in every chronic disease as well as increases in body weight and body fat. Unfortunately, there’s no tool for assessing the impact of glucose and fructose. All we have is the glycemic index (GI), which measures only glucose. As you now know, glucose is just half the sweetening picture.
A glucose measurement can also be a very misleading. Agave syrup, for example, has a very high percentage of fructose, and anything that has a high percentage of fructose will have a low glycemic index. That’s how agave syrup got falsely labeled as a so-called healthy alternative to sugar. It’s not.
That said, the glycemic index can still be used as one of many reference points. Anything over 59 is considered high. Table sugar has a glycemic index around 60.
Calories are another reference point. One teaspoon of table sugar has 16 calories. Syrups and honey have slightly higher caloric values because they’re denser. You’ll quickly discover that all caloric sweetening agents have similar amounts of calories. It doesn’t matter if the product is organic, raw, or seems less processed. A caloric sweetener is a caloric sweetener.
Grams are another. When you’re buying a product off the shelf, 3 grams of added sugar per serving is a reasonable target. One gram has 4 calories, so three grams is just 12 calories. The maximum recommended amount of added sugar per day for women is 25 grams (about 2 tablespoons), for men 40 grams (about 3 tablespoons), and for dieters 15 grams (about 1 tablespoon).
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