The Dangers of Refined Sugar

I originally began this post as a recap of my second week of the #30DaysSugarFree detox, when I realized I hadn’t explained why it was so important to decrease my sugar consumption.

If you’d like to know why sugar is so dangerous, read on.

What are the risks of large consumption of refined?

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes – reduces body’s sensitivity to insulin, which can result in Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Obesity – specifically, an increase in visceral stomach fat in children.

What are the daily refined sugar recommendations?

According to the American Heart Association:

  • women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons/25 grams (100 calories) of sugar per day
  • men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons/38 grams (150 calories) per day

According to a January 2014 study, most Americans consume about 22 teaspoons (244-366 calories) of refined sugar per day.

What are refined sugars?

Refined sugars are any sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they’re processed or prepared. They include the following:

  • most sodas, energy drinks, chocolate milks, iced teas and other sugar sweetened beverages
  • most grain-based desserts such as cookies, cakes, and donuts
  • fruit drinks – most fruit juices have added sugar
  • pudding, ice cream, and other dairy based deserts
  • candy
  • most ready-to-eat cereals
  • most ready-to-eat breads

They don’t include naturally occurring sugars, such as in fruits, organic honey, or pure maple syrup.


Yeah, I know that equates to a lot of food to avoid. What makes it difficult is that sugar is in EVERYTHING! It’s in that tomato sauce you plan on using for tonight’s dinner. It’s in salad dressing, ketchup, grape jelly, most sauces and marinades. It’s almost impossible to avoid. The key here is not to try to avoid every single gram of sugar. That would require a change in lifestyle I doubt you are ready for.

How do you decrease your refined sugar intake?

The goal is to LIMIT refined sugar and this means making better choices.

For example:

You’re at a party. There is seltzer or soda to drink. You grab a bottle of soda and guzzle that down. Maybe you have more than one. If you think about it, that 20-ounce bottle of soda you drank had somewhere between 35 and 65 grams of sugar. That’s equal to 8.75 – 16 teaspoons (140 – 275 calories) of sugar. Look at that! You just went over your daily consumption limit. But if you had taken the seltzer and added a piece of orange or lemon to it, you’d have drank no added sugar. #WINNING!

Another example:

It’s morning tea time. You order a Venti Green Tea from Starbucks. You go to the counter and you have a choices: white sugar packets, sugar-in-the-raw packets, blue fake-sugar packets, or honey. What do you chose? Honey is the best option because it comes from nature and it not processed in a food production plant. #WINNING

I’ve found the best way to do that is to substitute natural sugars to calm those sugar cravings. So instead of a candy bar, I eat a piece of fruit. (Pears and pineapples are my favorite because they are incredibly sweet, but still provide a lot of good nutrition.) If you think of our basic healthy living guidelines: eating more whole foods and drinking more water helps to decrease the amount of sugar you consume, so those are pretty good rules to follow.

Question: Are you are sugar addict like me? How do you fight it?


10 thoughts on “The Dangers of Refined Sugar

  1. Katy Thomas (@KatyMarie5) says:

    GREAT post! So informative. It also amazes me how addicting refined sugar is. I gave it up for lent and stopped having cravings completely – but as soon as I reintroduced it into my diet, my cravings back back immediately.


    • Irene says:

      I was thinking of treating myself to a piece of small cake after my 30 days was over, but I’m starting to think that may not be a good idea.


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