Sugar is an extremely popular and somewhat addictive food ingredient. From desserts and sweets like pastries, ice cream, and cookies, to drinks like fruit juice and soda pop, sugar is everywhere -- even condiments are often high in sugar. That's too bad, since sugar is seriously unhealthy. Here are the top four ways that sugar harms health.
1. Higher risk of obesity. Sugar essentially adds empty calories to your diet. It has no nutrient value, but is high in calories. This can easily lead to a caloric surplus. Consuming more calories than the body needs leads to weight gain and the development of obesity. Unfortunately, it's easy to consume huge amounts of sugar without even achieving satiety. This is in contrast to healthy foods, most of which promote fullness.
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2. Worse dental health. The primary cause of teeth damage are certain harmful bacteria. These bacteria form plaque and corrode the enamel that protects teeth. When enamel is worn away, a cavity forms. Now what do those nasty bacteria live off of? Sugar. It is the bacteria's digestion of sugar which produces the acids that damage enamel and ultimately result in tooth decay.
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3. A greater chance of heart disease. It has been found that higher sugar consumption increases the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, while lowering the level of good cholesterol. This, in turn, harms the cardiovascular system and increases risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in modern, advanced societies.
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4. Increased risk of diabetes. Diabetes is linked to obesity, which sugar consumption contributes to. Sugar also makes diabetes more likely directly. As a refined carbohydrate, sugar is digested quickly. This results in a rapid spike of blood sugar and insulin levels. Over time this effect can increase insulin resistance, eventually culminating in the development of diabetes.
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The modern Western diet is absolutely packed with sugar -- a fact that has extremely negative consequences. As the list seen above demonstrates, cutting down on sugar is critical for better, healthier living. Almost everyone could do with consuming less sugar, and trying to do so is certainly worthwhile.