What’s Wrong With Sugar – Part 2

If you’ve not read part 1 (see earlier blog post) read it now, it’ll give you the background to why sugar is something you’d be wise to cut down on.

What most people don’t realise is that excessive amounts of fructose (fruit sugar) have worse metabolic effects than excess glucose (the simple sugar which starchy carbohydrate foods break down into when digested).  This is because the liver has to do all the work to metabolise fructose, whereas all the cells of your body can metabolise glucose. When the liver metabolises fructose, a by-product is uric acid, dangerous in excess.

The big nutritional bogyman is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is even worse for your health than sucrose (table sugar, which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose).

These are some of the diseases and conditions brought about by excess sugar and in particular excess fructose:

1. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
2. Tooth decay
3. High blood pressure (from excess uric acid)
4. Kidney damage (again, from excess uric acid)
5. High blood cholesterol (LDL)
6. Type 2 diabetes
7. Obesity
8. A wide range of inflammatory conditions

The US has an even bigger problem with excess sugar consumption than here in the UK. Just over 200 years ago in 1800, Americans ate on average 18 lbs of sugar a year. By 1900  it was up to 90 lbs, and in 2000 it had risen to a staggering 180 lbs a year.

I’ve been a personal trainer in London for over 10 years now, and I advise my clients to cut down not only on sweets, fizzy drinks, and cakes, but also high-fructose foods and drinks like fruit juice, dates, and raisins.

Aim to keep your fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. Here’s a handy list of fruits and their fructose content:

blackberries (1 cup): 4g
orange (one): 6g
banana (one): 7g
blueberries ( 1 cup): 7g
medjool date (one): 8g
apple (one):  10g
raisins (1/4 cup): 12g

See how high is the fructose content of raisins and medjool dates! Better off snacking on almonds. And make sure you don’t eat more than 3 portions of fruit a day. Don’t stop eating fruit, 3 a day is a good number, as you’re getting lots of vitamins and minerals and fibre too.