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Coffee With Sugar: Ignore the Hype

November 28, 2010

Last week many news sources carried a story reporting an experiment conducted at the University of Barcelona in Spain. The web sources, such as the Daily Mail from the UK, all derived the conclusion that since glucose was necessary for brain functioning, sugar is good too. Not only is this an erroneous conclusion, but it’s a dangerous one as well.

This study looked at forty subjects’ brains after drinking coffee with either sugar, without sugar, sugar alone or water by itself. (The reports did not say how much sugar.) Brain scans revealed that the subjects consuming the coffee AND sugar used the part of the brain dealing with memory much more efficiently than the other subjects. This also was demonstrated by the fact that these subjects did better on tests after consuming the coffee.

These results which have been widely reported are themselves true, but the generalizations derived from these results are not true. Only half of the truth has been covered, the part that everyone wants to hear: Sugar in coffee is good for you, therefore enjoy your coffee with lots of sweets.

The truth still remains, confirmed by study after study, that sugar is a poison which in more than small amounts is damaging to health for most people. In saying this, it’s important to define sugar. Sugar is found in many sources, but all sugar is not sugar. Glucose and fructose are sugars commonly found in carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables. It is glucose that is necessary for the brain to function. The sugar usually put in coffee is table sugar, a highly refined sugar which has little left in it that could be called necessary for the body. Also, even though glucose is necessary for the brain, too much can be harmful and damage cells. It’s all about balance and moderation.

When sugar is consumed within fruit, there are other parts of the fruit that need to be digested. Therefore, the sugar is more slowly and safely assimilated into the body. The study mentioned that the sugar, if not put directly in the coffee, could be consumed in the form of a cookie or other sweet. The healthiest sweet food in this case might be a banana. Cookies and candy are still empty calories containing white refined sugar which can cause havoc in our systems.

The coffee part of this study is the part being ignored. It is still being found by research that coffee in moderation, as in about three cups a day, is good for us. It helps prevent many diseases. A little bit of sugar is not a big deal. But three to six packets many consumers report as normal – that’s not ok.

Don’t be fooled; ignore the sugar hype.



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