In the past 30 years, sugar intake has skyrocketed worldwide. It’s embedded in almost every processed food and drink. Some people call sugar a toxin or a poison. When taken in large amounts, it fuels obesity, diabetes and conditions that lead to heart disease.

Triglycerides and metabolic syndrome

Sweeteners, such as refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup contain fructose. When your diet consists of large amounts of sugar, large quantities of fructose reach the liver. Over time, if your diet remains unchanged, triglycerides (circulating blood fat) and unhealthy cholesterol go up, blood pressure goes up and body cells can’t respond to insulin. When these reactions occur, metabolic syndrome sets in. Some people are genetically predisposed to the syndrome. Some develop it through lifestyle and diet.

What about fructose in fruit?

Sucre web petit DSC_4463b

Fructose is the natural sugar in many fruits. When we eat fruit, the fructose is diluted with the water and fibre of the fruit, so the amount of fructose is less than the fructose in sweeteners. Also, the fibre in the fruit slows down the absorption of fructose in the bloodstream, so the liver is receiving fructose more slowly and in smaller doses. Fresh fruit has vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Sweeteners have NO nutritional value –they offer nothing but empty calories. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that we should overindulge in fruit. All foods, including fruit, should be eaten in moderation and our choices among the food groups should be varied and balanced.

What to do

You can’t eliminate sugar but you can consume fewer sugars and substitutes. The Heart Disease Health Centre quotes the following from nutrition professor Rachel K. Johnson, PhD : “Anyone who wants to limit the sugar in their diet should start by examining what they drink”.  This makes sense since heavily processed drinks tend to be very high in fructose and liquid fructose hits the liver at higher speed than food-mixed fructose.

A basic rule is to avoid processed foods and drinks. Base your diet on whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats or fish. The American Heart Association recommends a daily limit of 30 gm (6 teaspoons) of sugar for women and 45 gm (9 teaspoons) for men.

Read food labels and watch out for words with “syrup” or “sweetener” and “evaporated cane juice” and words that end with “ose”– as in dextrose, fructose or sucrose.

                                                                                                                                               Photo courtesy of: Alex Pfeiffer
Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

26 thoughts on “Sugar

  1. Hi Julie, thanks a lot for this great blog.
    Is it ok to leave an article and a petition link by Sum of Us Org regarding this topic?
    If you don’t like this please let me know and I won’t do it again-promise!
    Best rgards
    This is their original text :
    Would you call a can of Coke a ‘healthier’ option? Well that’s what companies like Coca-Cola will be able to claim thanks to a new EU regulation on using fructose. There’s only one small problem — consuming high levels of fructose is a leading cause of obesity around the world.

    This decision was made by the EU Food Standards Agency in Parma, Italy. The EU Food Standards Agency is meant to serve us and protect us — the European consumer. But for too long the food industry has had the agency all sewn up. We need to push back on food industry lobbying by demanding the EU Food Standards Agency thinks again.

    Can you spare 1 minute to sign this petition demanding the EU Food Standards Agency thinks again?

    Fructose is used as a cheap alternative to other forms of sugar. In moderation, it can be better than some other sugars. But some forms are considered so bad for your health that they are banned in many countries. So it seems bizarre that the EU will allow the likes of Coca-Cola, Nestle and others to claim that their soft drinks, chocolate bars and sugary cereals are healthier for us.

    This isn’t the first time we’ve taken on Big Food. When Nestle tried to suck a Canadian town dry of its natural water, hundreds of thousands of us came together and forced Nestle to drop its plans. Now we need to step up and protect consumers across Europe from food industry lobbying and tell the EU Food Standards Agency to think again about fructose.

    Tell the EU Food Standards Agency to protect consumers and stand up to food industry lobbying on fructose.

    Thanks for all you do,
    Martin, Claiborne, Angus and the rest of us.
    the link to sign the petition is here :

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.