Sugar has become public enemy number 1 within the last couple of years, pushing fat and cholesterol to the wayside. This has happened for good reason as more studies of sugar and its effects on the body have been done. Hiding in much of our foods, sugar is highly addictive and we have been conditioned to crave it from a very young age.
The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of sugar for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. In reality, we consume much more. The average person in America is eating between 13 and 20 teaspoons (230 to 335 calories) a day. This is not your fault, sugar hides in unsuspecting foods like bread, pasta sauce, ketchup, even salad dressing. If we’re a little more conscious about the amount of sugar that is in our foods, we will be able to cut back. This may initially be difficult because sugar is addictive, but once you overcome it, you’ll begin seeing the benefits. Here are the surprising benefits of cutting back on sugar:
1. It can lower your blood pressure
New research shows that added dietary sugars can actually raise blood pressure, independent of weight gain.
2. It can lower bad cholesterol
People who consume more sugar have lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and higher levels of LDL (bad cholesterol). High levels of LDL leads to clogged arteries and blood vessels, resulting in heart disease.
3. It decreases your risk of heart attack
For every extra sugary soda you drink, it can risk your chance of heart disease by 25%.
4. It keeps your brain sharp
As a child, your parents probably told you sugar rots your teeth. They were right about that, but not only does it rot your teeth, it can eat away at your brain power. Research has shown that sugar can impair cognitive function and reduces protein necessary for memory and responsiveness.
5. Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
A high sugar diet reduces production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) a chemical that helps form new memories.
6. You’ll break the addiction to sweet stuff
Sugar is physically addictive and symptoms of withdrawal are real. In the brain, feel-good neurotransmitters known as dopamine, are released during sugar absorption. The problem lies when eating too much sugar, they shut down healthy dopamine signaling, meaning it takes more and more sugar to fire off those pleasure signals. The sight of a sugary substance triggers the same neurological reward centers as cocaine.
7. It will keep your skin looking young
Sugar will increase the rate in which your skin dulls and wrinkles by a process called glycation. This is where sugar enters the bloodstream and attaches to proteins that form advanced glycation end products. This damages collagen and elastin, proteins that keep the skin firm and elastic.
8. Lowers the risk of diabetes
This may be a known one, but diabetes is linked to sugar because its consumption spikes insulin levels.