A (large) spoonful of sugar can prove fatal, a leading doctor in the US has warned, as it can have the same effect on the body as poison when eaten in large quantities.
A paediatric endocrinologist from the University of California claims that high doses of sugar, (whether it’s crystallised, in a corn syrup or granulated), turn into ‘toxins’, which lead to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and diet-related diseases like type-2 diabetes.
Motivated by his own patients and after treating too many sick and obese children, Dr Robert Lustig pinpoints sugar as the blame.
The doctor has become a pioneer in the war against sugar and believes that all types of the sweet stuff should be taken more seriously and be classed as a toxic health hazard.
Dr. Lustig is urging for sugar to be classed as lethal as tobacco and alcohol. Blaming sugar for the “public health crisis”, he told 60 Seconds:
“Ultimately this is a public health crisis. And when it’s a public health crisis, you have to do big things and you have to do them across the board. Tobacco and alcohol are perfect examples.
“We have made a conscious choice that we’re not going to get rid of them, but we are going to limit their consumption. I think sugar belongs in this exact same wastebasket.”
The key behind the warning is that it’s not just sugar that is poison – but the dose that makes it toxic, warns Dr. Lustig.
However, with food companies replacing fat with sugar, it’s becoming a problem that’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.
"When you take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard," explains Dr. Lustig. "And the food industry knew that, so they replaced it with sugar … and guess what? Heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and death are skyrocketing."
Although sugar consumption has decreased 40% since the 1970s, its replacement – corn syrup – in on the rise and is, as Dr. Lustig explains, “just as toxic” as they both contain fructose, the compound that gives food its sweet taste.
So how much added sugar should we be eating (or avoiding)?
According to the British Dietetic Association, the recommended intake of ‘added sugars’ – such as honey, fruit juice, jam, soft drinks and those in processed food, is around 50g a day.
However, when one can of Coca Cola (500ml) contains 65g of sugar – the equivalent of 13tsp of sugar and 15g over the sugar RDA - it’s easy to see how Brits are way off target when it comes to adequate sugar consumption.
If you want to know how much sugar is too much, avoid food that contain more than 15g of sugar per 100g and lean towards food that is 5g and under in every 100g.
How to avoid the sugar traps, according to Netdoctor:
Dried fruits are a great tasting snack, but beware they are often sprayed with a sugar solution before being packaged.
Sushi can come packed with mayonnaise (or mayo based sauces) as well as other sauces full of hidden calories.
Not all smoothies have potential fat traps - ones made entirely from wholefood ingredients and fresh fruit, are packed with nutrients and vitamins. However, don't be fooled into thinking that all smoothies make a healthy drink. Many processed smoothies are so full of added sugars, syrup, additives and full-fat milk (and sometimes ice cream), that you'd be better off having a large milkshake from your local takeaway.
It may seem like the healthier alternative to a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, but veggie crisps have the same fat content as ordinary crisps.
Frozen yoghurt is usually low in calories - but the sugar content can be sky high.
A tortilla wrap may contain carbohydrate than a slice of bread, but most pre-packed wraps are packed full of hidden fat traps, such as processed meat, mayonnaise and butter.
Many cereals contain a host of different sweeteners to make them more tasty, so make sure you check the sugar content before piling it into your breakfast bowl.
Choosing a low-fat muffin over a full fut version may seem like a clever move, but in reality, the snack can contain more sugar. This means that not only could your 'healthier' muffin contain more calories, it may be less filling too.
Gluten-free aren't necessarily more healthy. Many gluten-free foods are processed and packaged, meaning they still have the fat traps other foods have.
Rice cakes can be a low calorie snack - as long as you stick to plain and don't pile on the toppings.