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Heart Health: What could be just as addicting as cocaine?

By , 10:32 pm on

Three clues for three guesses.  

  1. It’s in everything from canned vegetables to baking mix to salad dressing.
  2. The average American consumes more than double the American Heart Association’s recommendation for it every day.  Kids consume more than three times the recommended amount.
  3. The calorie value of the amount consumed daily by the average American of this substance is the same as the calorie value in 10 strips of bacon.

If you guessed sugar, you’re right. These statistics astounded me, but not as much as this: typical Americans eat 130 pounds of sugar every year.  To get a clear picture of 130 pounds of sugar, next time you’re in the grocery store, check to see if it has 26, 5-pound bags of sugar on the shelf.

Sugar is truly just as addictive as cocaine because of the way it acts on the brain. Although the Food and Drug Administration is still trying to determine how much sugar is harmful, doctors have linked regular, American-sized sugar consumption to:

  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Diabetes (due to Metabolic Syndrome)
  • Heart disease (due to Metabolic Syndrome)
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Acne and other skin problems
  • Stiffening of arteries
  • Obesity

What a list of maladies. Why is the stuff even legal? I have no answer for that.

The list above has my attention. Consuming sugar is deeply a part of how Americans eat because it is woven into food processing and preservation. Additionally, grocery companies, the makers of cookies, bread, catsup, soup, and etc., put it into cheap food so the food tastes better and more appealing, spurring us to buy it.  One sugar researcher said the taste of sugar is so tantilizing to humans that if we were to put it on dog food, we’d like the taste of dog food. 

The bottom line is this: Regular soft drinks are the biggest culprit.  If you eliminate these, it’s a huge step to reducing sugar intake.  The American Heart Association recommends an adult have no more than 9.5 teaspoons (tsp) of sugar a day for men and 6 tsp of sugar a day for women, versus the 22 tsp most of us eat daily. Translated into calories, that’s144 for men and 96 for women.  In terms of foods which specifically add sugar to your diet, the total daily recommendation could look like this for a man: about 6 oz of orange juice (72 cal. from sugar), ½ cup pasta sauce (28 cal. from sugar), and 3 regular Oreos (42 cal. from sugar).  By the way, one can of regular soda has about 140 calories from sugar. That means it has 8.75 tsp. of a man’s recommended maximum 9.5 tsp. of added dietary sugar. A woman would surpass her recommended daily amount by 45%, if she drank the whole soda. If your summer coffee of choice is a frappucino from a famous coffee house, you may be surprised that 62% of the 410 calories in a “grande” size are from sugar.

A last thought: one researcher says there is no reason for humans to add sugar to our diets since we get all the carbohydrates we need from a balanced diet.

Home Care Assistance helps clients eat right, exercise, stay mentally active, and nurture their spirits. This care is central to our services—we call it the Balanced Care MethodTM.  We’ve been there, too.  Here’s our phone number: 402-763-9140.

Thanks to for sugar content and other scary facts.

Appreciation for inspiration and information to The NYTimes, “Is Sugar Toxic?” and The Atlantic, “The Sugar Addiction Taboo.”

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