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How Much Sugar is Too Much?

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

The federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest an upper limit of 25 percent of daily calories come from added sugar. Doesn’t that seem really high? If you have an extra 500 calories to spare, wouldn’t it be wise to spend it on something with some nutritive value? Aside from a waste of calories, a new study shows that adults who consume high levels of sugar have significantly elevated levels of several risk factors for heart disease.

The study, conducted by a group of researchers at the University of California, Davis, and in Japan suggests that the generally-accepted guidelines for sugar may be too lenient and should be reconsidered. The results of their study were reported online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, and will appear in the journal’s October print edition.

“While there is evidence that people who consume large amounts of sugar are more likely to have heart disease or diabetes, it has been controversial as to whether high-sugar diets may actually promote these diseases,” said Kimber Stanhope, the study’s senior author and a research scientist at UC Davis.

“Our new findings demonstrate that several factors associated with an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease were increased in individuals who consumed 25 percent of their calories as fructose or high fructose corn syrup,” Stanhope added.

As described in the UC Davis news, the researchers examined 48 adult participants between the ages of 18 and 40 years. For five weeks before the study, subjects were asked to limit daily consumption of sugar-containing beverages to one 8-ounce serving of fruit juice. The participants were then divided into three groups, each group consuming 25 percent of their daily calories as fructose, high fructose corn syrup or glucose. The researchers found that within two weeks, study participants consuming fructose or high fructose corn syrup exhibited increased bloodstream concentrations of three known risk factors for heart disease: LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and a protein known as apolipoprotein-B, which can lead to plaque buildup in arteries.

The American Heart Association recommends that people consume only five percent of their daily calories as added sugar. How much added sugar do you consume?

Read more: Diabetes, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Health, Heart & Vascular Disease, High Blood Pressure

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

70 comments

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2:54AM PDT on Aug 26, 2011

I don't ADD sugar to anything. I'm too busy to bake, so the sweet treats are for special occasions only, and most of the time, it's in form of the Thanksgiving apple pie.

Only in rare instances such as making stir fry that I use a tsp of sugar to balance the soy sauce. But we don't even eat much pancakes, much less anything that requires sugar. We eat oatmeal with bananas. I get cereals that are healthy, such as honey bunches of oats, and don't use extra sugar, because it's already naturally sweetened with honey.

We're trying to lose weight.

7:20AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

thanks

1:41PM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

thanks for the article

1:13PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Helpful thanx

6:23AM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

If I understand correctly from the results of the study, glucose did not increase bloodstream concentrations of the three known risk factors for heart disease, therefore there is no necessity to restrict glucose intake........
Come on get real you call this a "study."

2:07AM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Stevia should be cosumed instead of sugar, it is a natural sweetener.

5:07PM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

pure raw suger cane suger is as toxic as the table suger? lots of nature things are toxic, but suger cane is natural.

6:10AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

thank you for the article

7:36PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

so probably 100 - 125 calories from sweets or soft drinks. sounds manageable as long as you're eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and make water (or gatorade occasionally if you're an athlete) your drink of choice.

7:21PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

What is more important: the health of Americans, or the profits of the companies that make corn syrup, sugar, and processed foods? It is clear to me which is more important to the U.S. government.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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I have to say that your article is silly and close to outright dumb. I read that article in Esquire …

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That was purrrty darn clever! Talk about an attention-getter!

Good for Zeke!

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