Here in Florida, asking your server for "sweet tea" is generally redundant. If you ask for tea, you can usually assume it will more than satisfy your sweet tooth.
Unfortunately sugar-sweetened beverages, which contain added sugars in the form of high fructose corn syrup or table sugar (sucrose), can have much longer-lasting effects on your body than temporary refreshment on a hot day.
A new review paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says this can lead to excess weight gain and a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
And while it’s not breaking news that ingesting large amounts of sugar is unhealthy …
Consumers need to know to look out for sugar hiding under other names such as fructose and high fructose corn syrup. That’s because these are arguably worse for the body that just plain old table sugar.
But they may not be that easy to avoid, unless you want to cut sweets out of your diet — even a once-a-day serving — altogether. That includes even supposedly healthy sugars like the kind you find in fruit.
Frank Hu, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead investigator of the JACC paper.
"Since we rarely consume fructose in isolation, the major source of fructose in the diet comes from fructose-containing sugars, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, in sugar-sweetened beverages," he said.
Dr. Hu added that "Our findings underscore the urgent need for public health strategies that reduce the consumption of these drinks."
The paper, which reviewed data from recent epidemiological studies and meta-analyses of these studies, reveals that consuming one or two servings a day has been linked to:
- As high as a 26% greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,
- A 35% greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and
- A 16% increased risk of stroke.
The research team also explored how fructose is metabolized in the body and its link to weight gain and the development of metabolic and cardiovascular conditions.
"Part of the problem is how fructose behaves in the body," said Hu.
Whatever Happened to ‘An Apple a Day …’?
You see, simple sugars are called monosaccharides. They include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose and galactose.
Glucose is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. From there, it is transported through the action of insulin into the body’s cells, where it will be used as fuel.
Fructose, on the other hand, is metabolized in the liver. There, it can be converted to fatty compounds called triglycerides. This may lead to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, a key risk factor for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Overconsumption of fructose can also lead to too much uric acid in the blood. This is associated with a greater risk of gout, a painful inflammatory arthritis.
What most people don’t know is that fructose is the main type of sugar in most fruits, which is leading some doctors to warn of the overconsumption of fruit.
I’m not saying fruit isn’t healthy, because it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
But just like everything, it must be eaten in moderation — something that can be hard to do when fruit is generally touted as healthy in unlimited quantities.
Generally, doctors recommend a maximum of 25 grams of fructose per day. A typical apple has about 9.5 grams, a banana 7.1, a pear 11.8 and a cup of grapes 12.4.
You can see how it’s easy to go over on your daily fructose ingestion, and that’s without even adding in if you drink any soft drinks or high-sugar fruit juices, which are among the unhealthiest "healthy" drinks out there.
I believe it’s very important to monitor your fructose intake, and something that can radically improve your health if you’re currently over-consuming fructose like the average American, whose daily dose is at an amount 300% higher than the recommended 25 grams.
Slowly tapering the amount each day can be an effective course of action instead of going cold turkey and completely eliminating sugar.
Related story: How Cinnamon Can Control Your Blood Sugar
Happy and healthy investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily