Is Sugar Really That Bad For You? And 4 Other FAQs About Sugar

While our bodies and brains favor sugar (glucose) as their preferred energy source, most Americans eat far too much of the sweet stuff. But some health experts commonly tout sugar as a poison that needs to be avoided at all costs, leading many people to be rightfully confused about sugar. Let’s take a look at some of the top frequently asked questions about sugar.

Is Sugar Really That Bad?
The short answer is that too much sugar is definitely bad for our health. But if you moderately consume sugar in the recommended amounts (see next FAQ), you are likely fine. There is especially no reason to cut out the naturally occurring sugars in fruit, vegetables, and dairy because these foods provide other health benefits and nutritional value.

How Much Added Sugar Should I Eat?
The American Heart Association recommends that women get no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day (6 teaspoons), and men keep their added sugar intake below 36 grams (9 teaspoons). Most people consume two to three times the recommended amount.

Are Natural Sugars Better?
Natural sugars, like honey, agave syrup, dates, or maple syrup, are commonly touted as healthier options to table or cane sugar. While these natural sugar sources have a slight nutritional benefit, as they contain vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants, they still contain similar amounts of sugar and should be treated as added sugar sources.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Good or Bad?
The FDA deems artificial sweeteners, like Splenda and Sweet’N Low, safe to consume. These artificial sweeteners may help you reduce calorie and sugar consumption. However, they are also linked to disruptions to satiety signaling (i.e., you may feel hungrier) and may cause gut microbiome dysfunctions.

What About Stevia?
Stevia is a natural sugar-free option, which may have fewer side effects than artificial sweeteners. Monk fruit is also a natural sugar substitute. However, these natural options haven’t been extensively studied and still may cause side effects in some people.

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