What does added sugar do that is unhealthy for you?

Sugar is a fundamental part of peoples’ diet across the world. Did you know that in 2015-16, approximately 172.5 million metric tons of sugar was consumed in total across the globe? (Source: Statista.com) That is a whopping number for an ingredient that may not be all that good for you.


In order to understand why that is, we need to first understand the two forms of sugar – natural and added sugar.


Naturally occurring sugar is found in unprocessed foods such as milk, fruits and vegetables. Examples of natural sugar are fructose and lactose, which are derived from fruit and milk respectively. Added sugar is the sugar/syrup that is added to processed foods and beverages while they are being manufactured. Refined sugar that is used at most homes on a daily basis is also a source of added sugar.

Here are the main reasons why added sugar is bad for you.

  • It is the leading contributor to weight gain: Consuming large quantities of added sugar can work to turn off your body’s appetite control system, making you eat more and pack on those extra kilos.
  • It puts your heart at risk: Consuming an excessive amount of high-glycaemic foods (those that quickly spike blood sugar) increases triglyceride levels in the body which in increases chances of heart disease.
  • It can make your body insulin resistant: Insulin, a vital hormone, enables cells to burn glucose. But consuming too much sugar prevents insulin from working, making cells insulin-resistant. This can increase the chances of diseases such as Type II diabetes.
  • It causes tooth decay: The more you consume packaged beverages and food stuffs, the faster mouth bacteria multiply, leading to cavities.
  • It replaces important nutrients: People who have a high intake of sugar miss out on important nutrients such as vitamin A and C, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. The simple carbohydrates contained in sugar replace the nutritious complex carbohydrates from other unprocessed foods.

So, it’s important to stay healthy by identifying sources of added sugar in your day-to-day diet and finding effective ways to avoid it.