Think you know everything on how to lower blood cholesterol? I’m sure it’s no news that excessive amounts of sugar can cause obesity, diabetes and more visits to the dentist.
But a report from Tufts University School of Nutrition says this is the first study to show that too much sugar is also bad news for blood cholesterol. It appears they’ve forgotten the work of Dr. John Yudkin.
North Americans love sugar because it tastes good and food companies know it. Studies show that they get 16% of their total calories from sugar added to foods during manufacturing.
Thirty-five years ago it was 10.6%. It’s the ‘silent sugar’ hidden in a variety of everyday foods such as bread. This means that most adults consume 90 grams of sugar daily or 21.4 teaspoons (tsp).
It’s easy to get this amount.
Years ago I warned parents that their children were getting eight teaspoons of sugar in cola drinks. And people wonder why we have an obesity epidemic! It is starting early in life, and you only have to look at the present generation of children.
The recent study involved 6,113 participants. They were divided into several groups with some receiving, as part of their diet, 3 tsp. of sugar daily and others up to 46 tsp. of added sugar.
Researchers found that, with increasing amounts of sugar, the good cholesterol HDL decreased and the unhealthy triglycerides were higher.
They concluded that the increased use of sugar and the adverse changes in cholesterol levels was not a healthy situation.
But this wasn’t the first report linking sugar and bad news. Dr John Yudkin, Professor of Physiology at London University, an expert on sugar, claimed 40 years ago that two pounds of sugar a week is not necessary, but also dangerous.
Yudkin reported in his book Sweet and Dangerous that studies confirmed that in Great Britain there was a direct association between the increase in sugar consumption and the rise of coronary heart disease. Moreover, this association had been seen in 20 other nations.
The results of this study did not surprise me. Several years ago I interviewed Linus Pauling, a biochemist and Nobel Prize winner. He told me that when sugar breaks down in the body, part of it produces acetate which is the forerunner of cholesterol which we produce in our liver.
Pauling cited an experiment on prisoners who could not cheat on their diet. This study showed that increasing the amount of sugar also caused an increase in blood cholesterol.
Population studies also associate sugar with cardiovascular disease. Yemenite Jews normally have a diet high in fat but low in sugar and little heart disease. But when they move to Israel and adopt the high sugar diet the incidence of heart disease increases.
In the past, the black populations of South Africa had almost no coronary disease. But when they too increased their consumption of sugar there was also an increase in heart disease.
So what is a prudent move? Primarily, remember that sugar is sweet and dangerous. Moreover, you don’t need much sugar as there is no food value in sugar apart from calories.
Don’t be fooled by packaging labels. And you don’t require a degree in food chemistry to read them. If sugar is labeled at the top of the list of ingredients, you know you’re getting packaged food loaded with sugar.
It’s also easy to forget that sugar has many cousins such as fructose, corn syrup, honey, raw sugar, maple syrup and molasses, to name a few.
Also, be careful of energy drinks that may contain 36% added sugar. And go easy on desserts and candy.
I admit that these studies linking sugar to increased blood cholesterol are just associations. But I believe it is foolhardy to simply ignore this evidence. The real message is that too many calories, not just sugar, is increasing blood cholesterol, resulting in needless deaths.
Unfortunately, unless dramatic measures are taken, too many calories will also kill our health care system.
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