Dagens Nyheter (Sweden): it is really harmful sugar?

Around sugar seething emotions. Someone is enjoying him and rejoicing in him, someone feels guilt and shame. And some even treat him with anger and suspicion. There are a lot of different opinions about sugar, and often fierce debate between those who think sugar is dangerous regardless of dose, and those who believe that even a healthy diet can include some sugar.

So how are things really?

Do we need sugar?

Sugar exists in many forms. In its natural form it is found, for example, in fruits and berries. And we add it to food. Along with fruits we get a certain amount of sugar, but also fiber and vitamins. So to limit appeal to first artificially added to food sugar because it gives energy but has no special nutritional value.

When we talk about sugar we usually mean sucrose, that is sugar. It consists of glucose and fructose and does not contain vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Glucose is an important fuel for cells of the body, especially the brain. However, glucose is in food, rich in carbohydrates, like breads, root vegetables and pasta, so especially to eat sugar to get enough glucose, it is not necessary. Also the brain can consume ketones, which are produced by the body from fatty acids.

According to the who and Nordic nutrition recommendations NNR12, artificially added to food sugar daily should have no more than 10% of the total number of calories consumed. For adults this means approximately 50 to 75 grams of sugar per day depending on energy needs. This is roughly equivalent to a jar of sweet drinks or one chocolate candy. Also, according to the who, reducing daily consumption of sugar, even up to 5% and less than healthy.

The sources from which we obtain sugar?

Research of the State food administration of Sweden show that 40% of adults and 50% of children eat more than 10% of artificially added sugar in the food. But actually we don’t very well remember what you eat, so it is possible that these figures are understated. This problem often arises in the course of research on nutrition.

It is sometimes said that one of the main sources of sugar for us — not obvious sugar “hidden” in food, and this may indeed be so, if you eat, for example, lots of sweet fruit yogurt, cereals and the like. But for most the main source of artificial sugar — after all the chocolate, pastries and sweetened beverages.

It is important and how much you eat of a particular product. For example, ketchup contains a lot of sugar, but in one tablespoon of ketchup — which is considered a standard serving — only 3 to 5 grams of sugar, according to the State food control. But the Bank of sweet drinks is 30-35 g.

How to determine that the product is sugar?

Sugar — a lot of different names. For example, the label in the composition may be sucrose, dextrose, glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, agave syrup, isoglucose or honey. On the label in the item entitled “Carbohydrates, of which sugars…” should be written, how many physical and how much added sugar the product contains. To determine how much a product is added sugar, is more complicated. The state food administration even made a special directory.

How does sugar?

You probably heard that from sweet children become hyperactive. Many already know that this is a myth. Studies have shown that parents perceive your child’s behavior as hyperactive when you think that he ate sugar.

But there are many other commonly held beliefs about sugar. For example, often say that sugar can cause cancer and “feeds” cancer. Many experiments that show that large amounts of sugar may cause cancer, conducted on mice, and the results of such research can rarely be applied directly to the person. In addition, often during the experiments mice receive a huge amount of sugar — much more than could eat people.

But if you look at all the available research in humans as a whole and not on individual scientific work, it will be clear that the evidence of Carcinogenicity of sugar is very shaky. However, an indirect relationship can be found. If you are a long time to eat a lot of sugar, increases the risk of weight gain and even obesity. But this is in turn increases the risk of cancer.

There is no reliable scientific evidence that sugar itself increases the risk of type II diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. In its analysis, the who States that the relationship of sugar with cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes is primarily caused by increase of the probability of occurrence of excess weight and obesity.

According to another popular belief, sugar is addictive. This is a very controversial, and the dependence on sugar is not considered scientifically valid diagnosis. Instead, some speak of a kind of dependence on food, but this is not a medical diagnosis. Sugar (and other food) does not cause such an increase in tolerance, drugs. However, some people have a craving for sugar more than others, but the medical dependence can not be called.

If fructose is harmful to the body?

Fructose is sometimes called the culprit of the obesity epidemic worldwide. As the name implies, fructose is in fruits, but also chocolates and a sweet soda. It is believed that fructose regardless of the source of harmful for the body. But fresh fruits have lots of fructose, but they have lots of other nutrients. The research was conducted, during which people ate lots of fruit (up to ten consecutive days), and it had no negative effect on their weight and blood sugar levels. And most of the fructose we get from sugar.

What about sugary drinks?

There are no rules without exceptions, and here the same story. There is strong evidence that sugar sweetened beverages like soda is bad for your health. They’ve been linked with an increased risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and tooth decay. Why this occurs is unclear, but one explanation says that liquid calories do not satiate as effectively as solid.

Of course, it is best to drink water, but it’s pretty boring. So if you drink soda more often than sometimes, choose low-calorie.

Does the amount we consume sugar?

Excess calories increases the risk of overweight, and this, in turn, may be associated with cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, some cancers and obesity. In many studies, after which the conclusion was drawn about risks associated with sugar, the subjects gained weight. Therefore it is impossible to say exactly what influenced the results — sugar or actually overweight. The amount of fat mass in the body affects many parameters of health.

But, according to the most comprehensive United study, for today there are no obvious risks for a healthy person with normal weight, which sugar covered no more than 10% of the daily energy.

A Swedish study among nearly 50 thousand people from the malmö area and len Vasterbotten, on whose example the scientists are trying to understand how linked the consumption of artificially added sugars with premature death, confirms this assertion. The mortality rate among people who eat from 7.5 to 10% artificially added sugar a day.

In this rule “the less sugar, the better” does not exist. The group that ate the least sugar — less than 5% — showed a higher mortality rate than those who ate from 7.5% to 10%. From this study we can conclude that the sugar is useful, but in any case the recommended 10% artificially added sugar mortality do not increase.

However, too high doses of sugar — more than 20% of daily energy consumed — just increase the risk of early death. However, people with this indicator, in General, were less healthy lifestyle, worse and eat more smoked than others.

What we do know is that sugar is bad for teeth and increases risk of tooth decay. So for the sake of dental health is to eat sweets only on Saturdays, and brush my teeth twice a day with toothpaste with fluoride.


With this article we in no way encourage you to eat more sugar. If you want to reduce consumption, as soon as you think you need it. Exceed the rate of consumption of sugar is very simple, because its a lot of sweets, biscuits and chocolate. And because of this may be more likely to gain weight, which causes many diseases. But it is not necessary to focus only on sugar. Most studies show that health is more affected by the diet as a whole and not any particular product.

Even observing the most healthy, varied diet consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, olive oil, fish, seeds and nuts, you can sometimes afford a piece of chocolate or a muffin.