Facts About Sugar You Probably Didn’t Know Yet

Heather Campbell
 min read

That you shouldn’t eat too much sugar and thus limit your sugar intake is something most people already know. Below are some more interesting facts about sugar that you probably didn’t know yet!

Facts About Sugar You Probably Didn't Know YetFor example, did you know that too much sugar can lead to mental illness in men? And that sugar substitutes are no healthier than refined sugar?

Read on to learn more valuable facts about sugar:

Men who eat a lot of sugar are more likely to have mental disorders: Surprising facts about sugar

Research by A. Knüppel et al. confirms an unfavorable effect of sugar intake from sweet foods and drinks on long-term psychological health.

Thus, this scientific study suggests that lower sugar intake may be associated with better psychological health.

This study was based on the following:

  • 26 years of data on sugar intake and the onset of mental disorders
  • of over 23,245 men and women in London
  • between the ages of 35 and 55.

According to this study, men with high sugar intake appear more likely to develop common mental disorders and depression.

In contrast, there was no clear and statistically significant association between sugar intake and depression in women.

Source: A. Knüppel, et al., Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study, Scientific Reports, 2017

Too much sugar will make you overweight

Unfortunately, we consume a lot more sugar than we think. That’s because sugar is not only found in the usual suspects, such as cake, soda, candy, and cookies.

It is also hidden in products you would be less likely to suspect, such as cold cuts, deli meats, spreads, soups, sauces, and all kinds of processed foods.

And don’t forget natural products that already naturally contain sugars, such as fruits, milk, and vegetables.

As a result, we quickly ingest too many sugars compared to the daily recommended amount.

Sugars by themselves are not necessarily fattening, but when you ingest too much of them, you gain more calories than you consume.

Those excess calories are then stored by your body as fat. Which will eventually cause you to become overweight, with dangerously visceral fat, or even obese.

Plant-based products are sufficient for your sugar needs

In essence, glucose is the only type of sugar your body needs. All other types of sugar are actually unnecessary and not essential for survival.

Glucose circulates in your blood and provides vital fuel for your cells.

Fruits, vegetables, and natural starch products such as bread or potatoes give your body enough glucose for all your energy needs.

These types of products also make you feel more satiated than all those other products with added sugars.

Sugar makes you tired

If you have an energy dip and feel sluggish and tired, don’t think a sugary, processed product is the solution.

Food products such as candy, chocolate bars, cookies, and sugary soft drinks cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.

But here’s the thing… To get that spike back down, your body makes extra insulin.

And that extra insulin production takes energy, making you tired and wanting to reach for sugar again.

So before you know it, you’re in a downward sugar spiral that makes you even more tired.

Therefore, choose unprocessed foods because these foods’ sugars (carbohydrates) are gradually released to your body, preventing a blood sugar spike.

More sugar is eaten in the U.S. than in many other countries

As the United States, we lead the world in terms of consumption of added sugars per person per day. As a country, we are also in the world’s top 3 for sales of sugary drinks.

All this sugar intake has a heavy toll… We have one of the highest overall obesity rates in the world in the U.S. and the highest rate of childhood obesity worldwide.

Moreover, more than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 11% of the U.S. population), and another 96 million adult Americans are at risk of also developing diabetes (about 38% of the U.S. adult population).


Sugar substitutes are no healthier than regular sugar

Popular sugar substitutes like coconut blossom sugar, maple syrup, or agave syrup sound healthier than old-fashioned granulated sugar but, in practice, just aren’t.

In fact, the human body doesn’t care whether sugar comes from a sugar cube, honey, or an orange or banana.

However, a piece of fruit such as an orange or a banana does contain more nutrients besides sugar, such as fiber (essential for proper bowel function) and potassium.

The only thing that really matters is how your body processes that sugar.

For example, the human body also considers cereal and pasta to be sugar (and numerous other seemingly innocuous food products).

More sugar is eaten in the countryside than in the city

Various food consumption surveys at home and abroad show that less sugar is consumed the more urban the living environment.

In other words, apparently, more sugar is eaten in the countryside than in the city.

Having a sweet breakfast in the morning is already good for 50% of your daily sugar need

If you have breakfast with sweet toppings, you will soon have ingested half the daily recommended amount of sugar.

Think fruit jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread, chocolate sprinkles, etc.

Some also like one or more delicious donuts…

But then, the day has yet to begin!

Tip: Therefore, choose a breakfast with fruit and lots of protein instead, for example, from (plant-based) dairy.

We get a lot of added sugars from beverages

Of all the added sugars we ingest in America, the second largest portion comes from non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks.

And most of the sugar we eat comes from all kinds of sugar and sweets.

Dairy is also a culprit, accounting for just over 10 percent of the added sugars we ingest.

And sauces and flavor enhancers provide just under 10 percent of the sugars we consume.

Alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, represent less than 2 percent of the intake of added sugars.

We eat too much of it: Facts about sugar

An adult woman should ingest a maximum of 25 grams of free sugars per day (around 100 calories), according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Free sugars are sugars not naturally found in food, which is why they are sometimes called added sugars.

For adult men, the maximum is 36 grams of free sugars per day (about 150 calories).

The guidelines for American children are even stricter.

The AHA recommends limiting the daily amount of added sugars for American children ages 2 to 18 to less than 24 grams per day (about 6 teaspoons) and limiting sugary drinks to no more than 8 ounces per week.

According to figures from the same American Heart Association, most American adults do not meet these guidelines at all.

Indeed, on average, an American adult ingests 77 grams of sugar daily, which is more than 3 times the recommended daily guideline for women and more than 2 times the recommended daily guideline for men.

And for American children, the numbers are even worse, as they consume an average of 81 grams of sugar per day. This is more than 3 times the recommended daily allowance for children.

Partly because of this, half of the American adults are now overweight or obese. And ever more children are also suffering from obesity…

Some other facts about sugar

  • Certain official dietary recommendations recommend lots of fast carbohydrates. Don’t listen to this, and don’t do this. Choose slow carbs and healthy fats, such as those found in oily fish like salmon (fish offers health benefits), coconut oil, and avocado.
  • Scientific studies have shown that insulin resistance is at the root of obesity.
  • Healthy carbohydrates are found in vegetables and, unlike fast, refined carbohydrates, do not cause rapid blood sugar spikes. This is smarter and healthier in terms of dietary strategy.
  • The human body does not know what to do with fast carbohydrates and other sugars, turning them into fat. As a result, you store more fat and visceral fat, which poses numerous health risks...
  • Our bodies are programmed for sugar, and manufacturers play on this tremendously. The food industry reaps big profits, but the costs and financial consequences of the sugar overabundance in our society go to the taxpayers (and the government).
  • Our body responds remarkably poorly to fructose (our body’s fat switch). This is especially useful for animals to get fatter in the winter months. Unfortunately, it is less useful for us humans looking to lose excess weight.
  • Do you suffer from depression, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, elevated blood sugar, or obesity? Then there is a realistic chance that sugar plays a significant role in this. Definitely do not underestimate the relationship between sugar and disease!
About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More