The not-so-sweet side of sugar: How much do we consume?

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Sugar is delicious, but too much of it poses health problems. It’s not your fault: it’s a biological fact that we, as humans, love sugar.

“It’s the salt and the sugar that we’re quote unquote addicted to,” said Baystate clinical dietitian Rubina Husain. She said sugar impacts the pleasure side of the brain.

Look in your fridge: Almost everything in there contains some form of natural or artificial sugar, whether you know it or not.

“I don’t know that sugar itself is bad. I think it’s the amount that we consume. That’s the issue,” Husain said. She explained too much sugar can lead to weight gain, which can cause health problems like diabetes. But how much is too much sugar? Husain said health agencies have yet to release official recommendations on that.

Industry tracker “Beverage Digest” found it’s also difficult to track how much sugar Americans are consuming. They do know it’s less than its peak in 1999, due to a recent drop in soda consumption. Most people know that sodas have high sugar content, but nutritionists are warning not to just put it back in the fridge and reach for a juice instead. That’s because just one cup of orange juice can have 22 grams of sugar. Compare that to industry recommended drinks like low fat milk, or a flavored water that has just 1 gram of sugar.

Diet sodas advertise no sugar, but they’re sweetened artificially. Husain said that tricks your brain, and it could cause you to eat more food. It’s recommended you read nutrition labels: you may be surprised to find out just how much sugar is in foods like ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressings, fast food burgers and protein bars.

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