Posted November 1, 2010
It’s that wonderful, sweet time of the year again. From now until Easter, grocery stores will feature seasonal candies to tempt your sweet tooth.
Americans devour about 24 pounds of candy each year. In the past 20 years, we have increased our sugar consumption from 26 pounds to 135 pounds per person each year! In comparison, in the late 1880s most Americans consumed only 5 pounds of sugar each year, and health professionals had minimal awareness of cardiovascular disease or cancer.
Sugar’s Effect on Your Health
Sugar is not real food. Natural sugar is refined for use in many processed and baked foods. During this process, sugar is stripped of all nutritional value and cannot be used effectively by your body.
When sugar is ingested, it enters the bloodstream and upsets the body’s blood-sugar balance. This imbalance triggers a release of insulin, which the body uses to keep your natural blood sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin is also a factor in promoting the storage of fat in your body.
While holiday candies and sweets are delicious, they may contribute to weight gain and higher levels of triglycerides. Both have been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. According to the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association, sugar is one of the top three major causes of degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sugar affects your body’s health in many other ways:
- Suppresses the immune system
- Contributes to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, poor concentration and crankiness
- Reduces the good HDL cholesterol, while increasing the harmful LDL cholesterol
- Weakens the body’s defense against bacterial infections
- Increases your risk of coronary heart disease
- Promotes tooth decay, which can lead to periodontal disease and other health problems
Sugary treats are tasty, but the more you consume the more you will crave them. Enjoy candies and sweets in moderation. And when baking delectable treats, consider using natural sweeteners, such as fruit, maple syrup, stevia or raw unfiltered honey.
How many sweets do you enjoy each week? If you use natural sweeteners, which do you enjoy the most? Share your responses and I’ll include them in a future blog. – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group