Processed sugar is pervasive within our culture these days. I created the graphic below to detail 10 shocking sugar facts that illustrate just how much it has invaded our lives.
1. Americans ingest over 150 pounds of added sugar per year. That’s over 25,000 teaspoons of sugar, or, way too much!
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Holy cow… Can you imagine eating even more than one teaspoon of sugar at a time? The thought of that makes even those of us who are dedicated “sweet-a-holics” shudder and sprout goosebumps!
However, Americans are eating way too much refined and processed sugar, and most of it is cleverly hidden in the foods we consume every day.
You can bet your good health that if you’re eating packaged foods that are labeled “low-fat”, “reduced-fat”, or “zero-fat”, you’re eating more than the daily recommended amount of sugar.
The way to fix it seems easy. We can all just eat fresh, whole foods at every meal and never have to worry about what’s in the package. We’ll just eliminate the package, right?!
Except that’s not realistic, is it? Life gets in the way, and hectic days can lead to poor decisions or hastily consumed meals on the go.
Sure, we should all strive to eat more real, healthy foods, but for those times that we just can’t avoid popping open a package, we all should become better nutrition label readers, as well.
2. An average can of soda pop contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar!
In case you haven’t got the word yet, most health and nutrition professionals believe that soda pop is really bad for you.
It’s no doubt, when even a small, 12 ounce can contains about 10 spoons of sugar! One little old can will put you over the limit for the day.
And sports drinks, which are extremely popular these days, are even worse.
Granted, athletes and other folks who work out extremely hard may be able to tolerate these sorts of drinks, but the average person experience a real sugar shock.
Soda pop has absolutely no nutritional value at all, so I see no reason to drink it.
I do believe, however, that a very occasional soda or some other kind of sugary drink will not do any long term damage to your health, provided your healthy to begin with.
The problem, as I see it, is that years ago soda was a treat to have on a rare basis, not the first thing you reach for when you’re thirsty.
It’s become so embedded in our modern culture that now it’s a way of life for lots of people, especially kids, and that’s a very bad thing.
Do yourself a favor and distance yourself from any kinds of soda, regular or diet. Your body will thank you for it.
3. Sugar hides itself very well. In fact, there are almost 60 aliases that sugar can go by.
Sugar is sneaky… Take a look at just some of the names is goes by, and see a complete list here at the bottom of this post.
Barley malt, Barbados sugar, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Buttered syrup, Cane juice,
Cane sugar, Caramel, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Confectioner’s sugar, Carob syrup…
4. Almost 80% of the items sold in supermarkets have added sugar in them.
We know added sugar is almost everywhere these days, but this statistic is shocking, even to me. One of the ways to avoid as much processed sugar as possible is make sure you’re adding fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily routine. Ideally, we’d all like to eat fresh foods all the time and ditch all the packaged stuff, but that’s just not practical. One of the best defenses is to become an avid label reader so we can determine just what ingredients are in the packaged foods we’re buying.
5. Some “healthy” foods contain high amounts of sugar. For instance, some types of yogurt have up to 7 teaspoons of added sugar!
Manufacturers are very good at hooking people with their advertising and packaging. Words like “low-fat”, “reduced fat”, and “heart healthy” are plastered all over supermarket items these days. But even these supposedly healthy foods can contain way too much sugar. Pay particular attention to reduced fat and low-fat items, because when the manufacturing process removes fat, something has to be added back to improve the taste, and that something is usually sugar.
6. From 1977 to 2000, people in the US have doubled their sugar consumption.
Years ago, sugary and sweet items used to be a treat we’d enjoy only on occasion. In our modern world, however, these type of foods have become the norm rather than the exception, and our waistlines are paying for it. More and more people are being diagnosed with Type II diabetes every year, and our Standard American Diet is to blame.
7. Fructose from fruit is okay because it comes with fiber and water. Fructose refined from beets, corn, and sugarcane can be as damaging to your liver as alcohol.
Virtually everything we eat and drink makes it to our liver for processing at some point on its travels through our body. The liver is constantly bombarded with assignments and does a bunch of work every day, but sugar is particularly taxing, especially when taken in the quantities we have now become accustomed to as “normal”.
8. Sugar can more addictive than cocaine!
That’s a bold statement, but studies like this point to an alarming fact: Sugar is in fact more addictive than certain illegal drugs. It can take weeks to wean our body off sugar, and symptoms like depression, headaches, nausea, and irritability can be experienced when trying to kick the sugar habit.
9. Refined sugar has absolutely no nutritional value, but plenty of empty calories!
It’s true, refined sugar really offers no nutritional value. And don’t think that switching to forms of “natural” sugar, like honey or agave nectar, will be that much better for you. Sugar is sugar, and substituting one for another is mainly done for reasons of taste.
10. Low-fat has a lot to do with sugar, mainly because to make the foods taste better after removing the fat, sugar is usually added in.
We discussed it previously, but let me reiterate. The low-fat craze of the last few decades has probably done more harm than good to the health of Americans. And the reason is mainly that large amounts of sugar have been added to these low-fat foods. Choose full fat, healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and other healthy fat items instead.
There you have it, 10 shocking sugar facts that may have surprised you. It takes a bit of diligence and determination, but it's possible to eliminate processed sugar from diet.
I did it with the help of Diane Sanfilippo and here excellent program, the 21 Day Sugar Detox.
If you're struggling to quit the sugar habit, Diane can help, I'm sure of it. Do yourself a favor and visit her site today to get started!
Ted is a writer and avid researcher on the subject of nutrition and general wellness. He has recently published books on Sugar Detox as well as the inflammation epidemic, and continues to improve his knowledge by constantly remaining up to date with the latest news and trends in the nutrition world. When not busy writing, you can find him playing banjo and guitar, or outside fishing.