Today's topic: Sugar is sugar, right?

Copyright 1998 Nutrition News Focus
October 14, 1998

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture banned Raisin Bran because is contains more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. Well, half a glass of milk contains (guess what?) 6 grams of SUGAR. First, sugar ain't poison. Second, we clearly eat too much sugar, but the average sugar intake is 130 grams per day with half of it coming from soda. Cookies and cakes are also major sources.

The amount of sugar we get from cereal, even sugar coated ones, is a small fraction of the daily total. Your Advisor prefers less sweetened cereals from a health perspective, but if sugar is what it takes to get people to eat breakfast, that is better than no breakfast or sausage on a biscuit with a diet soda. Third, sugar ain't sugar. There are multiple sugars that differ chemically and in their biological effects. Fruits, including raisins, have mostly fructose and some glucose while table sugar is sucrose (which contains glucose and sucrose linked together in a ratio of 1 to 1). Sodas now use high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) because it is much cheaper than sucrose from beets or cane. The sugar in fruits tends to be absorbed more slowly because of the fiber and other stuff in it.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Our HFCS intake has gone from zero in 1970 to about one third of all sugar intake. Your advisor is uneasy about this because fructose is not metabolized the same as other sugars. Instead of being converted to glucose which the body uses, it is removed by the liver. Because it is metabolized by the liver, fructose does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way it normally does. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter.

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Copyright 1998 by Nutrition News

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