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Eliminate deadly “healthy sugar” from your life in three simple steps

Eliminate deadly “healthy sugar” from your life in three simple steps

When are health food stores going to get that the term “healthy sugar” is an oxymoron? Most of them know it, if they have studied the problem at all, but they have to sell what the customers want–and that means sweet foods and drinks without the word “sugar” on the label. The types of sweeteners have changed dramatically over the past 40 years. Some natural versions, such as stevia, have made inroads, but not significant ones–fructose (especially high-fructose corn syrup) reigns supreme.

Did you know that your children are eating and drinking 62 pounds of this one sweetener yearly? Hard to believe? It’s in everything they like–soft drinks, “fruit” beverages, cookies, gum, jelly, and baked goods. And that’s only a partial list. High-fructose corn syrup consumption increased from zero in 1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001! And since it isn’t called sugar, most people think it’s better for them–a “healthy” alternative.

But I have a new mantra for you to repeat to yourself the next time you’re in the health food store looking for more nutritious foods to feed your family: “Fructose is like table sugar, except worse.”

Fructose vs. table sugar: Is there a lesser of two evils?

Here’s a list of some of the bad things fructose could be doing to your family, according to a recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

• Elevating levels of triglycerides, which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease

• Altering the magnesium balance in the body, leading to accelerated bone loss

• Boosting levels of dangerous trans fatty acids in the blood

Plus, it makes you fat.

Consumption of various sweeteners has risen in the United States from an estimated 113 pounds per person in 1966 to 147 pounds in 2001, according to the USDA. And the fat curve, if you’ll pardon the expression, has risen in parallel.

There’s a little basic science here that illustrates why fructose causes so many problems. If you flunked biochemistry, or are just bored with it, skip the next paragraph.

Your body does need sugar–in the form of glucose–for many biochemical processes. When you consume glucose, it increases production of insulin, which enables sugar in the blood to be transported into cells where it can be used for energy. Fructose, however, doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion. “Therefore,” the Washington Post reports, “researchers suggest that consuming a lot of fructose, similar to consuming a lot of fat, may contribute to weight gain.”

Hold on a minute: the Post was doing unusually well for a mainstream publication–until it got to the part about fat. Once again, for the record: FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT; sugar and starch (which turns to sugar) make you fat. And fructose makes you fat and sick.

However, other scientists question whether high-fructose corn syrup acts differently in the body from table sugar (sucrose) and say that using one over the other wouldn’t make much difference. Well, OK, they’re both bad for your health, so curse both their families and the boxes or bottles they came in.

Eat the whole fruit, and nothing but the fruit

Don’t get me wrong: Whole fruit, which is a natural source of fructose, is excellent nutrition. But you must eat the whole fruit, except the skin and the seeds. Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to eat some of the skin, especially citrus fruits. That white stuff just under the skin is loaded with bioflavanoids.

Actions to take:

(1) A few months ago, I read a great article on this topic by Dr. Joseph Mercola. He said: “One of the simplest and most important things you can do to limit fructose in your diet is eliminate soda and fruit juices as they have about 8 teaspoons of fructose per serving. Soda should almost be illegal to give to children.”

(2) But don’t just stop at soda and fruit juice. Make sure to check the labels on all the foods you pick up at the supermarket. You’ll be surprised at how many items fructose, sucrose, and all the other “oses” have snuck their way into.

(3) Don’t be afraid of whole fruit. It’s good for you, and you’ll get all the “sugar” you need from it and the other healthy foods in your diet. RH

References:

“”Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002;76(5): 911-922

“Sweet, but not so innocent? High-fructose corn syrup may act more like fat than sugar in the body,” Washington Post, 3/11/03, page HE01

“More problems with fructose,” Dr. Joseph Mercola’s eHealthy News You Can Use 2002; 414

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