How Toxic is Sugar



In a recent interview that aired on CBS, Dr. Sanjay Gupta sparked a national discussion when he discussed the recent research results surrounding sugar consumption and the effects it can have on the human body.


This discussion has sparked a debate that we thought it would be useful to examine further in this blog post – namely just how dangerous is sugar consumption and what will consuming too much sugar do to you and your body over the longer term?


Most experts agree that excessive sugar consumption is either directly or indirectly to blame for many of the current diseases and adverse health conditions that are found throughout the world.


Such conditions include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease.


It is also a fact that around 16% of the total calories that many people consume come from added sugar that is contained in foods and drinks such as energy drinks, soda, desserts, fruit drinks, ice cream and chocolate.


The issue with this is that far too many people throughout the world are consuming too many calories in total, but with significantly too few nutrients in their diets as they are not consuming the required whole grains, fruits and vegetables.


The truth is that many of us don’t realize just how much sugar we are consuming. This includes via regular table sugar, as well as honey, syrup, and virtually all processed foods.


In addition, sugar is often consumed unnoticed via foods such as yoghurt, sauces, bread and peanut butter.


Another problem is that sugar is addictive, and ingrained in our biology – as there is no food stuff on the planet that has fructose in it that is poisonous to you – so put simply, when you taste something that’s sweet, it’s an evolutionary signal that this is a safe food for you to eat. This explains our fascination with sugar and why we are so keen to constantly consume so much of it.


Humans naturally used to get fructose mainly by eating fruit, which is also typically high in fiber, which helps to slow consumption and the body’s absorption of the food. But today’s processed foods, which contain refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are much easier to overeat, which has been one of the main causes of our current problem with sugar in our diet.


However, it’s important to note that not all nutrition experts are convinced that sugar is highly toxic. Although most agree that, when consumed in excess, sugar can be detrimental to your health, it is also widely accepted that when consumed in moderation, sugar is absolutely fine.


To give you some idea of how much sugar you should be consuming, and whether you are indeed taking in too much – The American Heart Association recommends that women consume around 100 calories – or 25 grams – of added sugar each day, while men limit consumption to around 150 calories – or 38 grams, per day.


To limit your sugar consumption, try and avoid drinking too many sugary drinks such as soda, and opt instead for unsweetened ice tea, water or 100 percent fruit juice.


Also, pay attention to labels and recognize that, in addition to high fructose corn syrup and sugar, items like corn syrup, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, liquid fructose, molasses, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose all signal added sugars in a processed food item.


African Rice and Beans

Recipe Redux: African Rice and Beans

This month’s challenge is to try a new ingredient to create a recipe around. While neither brown rice nor beans are a new ingredient, my preparation method is totally new and totally awesome! I tend to make things work for me and interpreted this challenge into a new “ingredient preparation method” for preparing this delicious African rice and beans recipe-so here we go!

African Style Rice & Beans
African Rice and Beans
2016-01-13 12:31:59
Serves 4
Bring the delicious and bold flavors of African cuisine to your dinnertable tonight with this simple rice and beans recipe.
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 15 min
1 cup dry red beans, rinsed
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups cooked brown rice
Green onion (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Place beans, onion, and garlic in oven safe pot, pour water over beans just covering them. Cover with lid or tin foil. Cook beans until tender, checking water level and doneness every 45 minutes-hour.
Add olive oil, diced bell pepper, and carrots to dutch oven or large skillet on the stove. Cook until softened. Once softened, add beans (and remaining baking liquid). Add spices and chicken broth. Simmer until water evaporates until desired thickness.
Serve over rice, top with green onion.

I came across this interesting article months ago and chomp at the bit each time I’m reminded of it. I saved it on my phone, so that was semi-frequently. But life and time escapes us and I’m finally excited to have an excuse to actually try this quick cook NO SOAK method for all those super fabulous and epically cheap dried beans!

For someone who loves to meal plan, but can’t seem to remember to take the 5 minutes to fill up a large pot with water and beans to soak overnight, this quick day-of method is intriguing.

So far, I’ve cooked these red beans as well as black beans, and it works! All I learned was to check the beans every 45 or so minutes & add water when they’re no longer covered. These work well for me on a day or few hours at home. I can throw the beans, water, and garlic/onion into an oven-safe pot and get on with my life for the next 2-3 hours. Before I know it, I’ve got delicious and soft beans ready to throw into any dish.

African style rice and beans

Now let’s get into the recipe…. A few years ago I spent a few months in Uganda teaching nutrition & participating in various other service projects. The power would go out often, and about half of the time for over a day while I was there. Since the city wasn’t necessarily hooked up to power, it was difficult to recognize whether or not the power would be on. No exterior lights in the city center or powered signs around. Our only indication was the numbing hum of generators at the local shops. It was always a guessing game whether or not we could make it home to cook up some ramen or make a PB & J. The power is relevant because if I couldn’t make anything at home, I’d be relieved to get the chance to hit up my fave restaurant. I honestly don’t even remember what it was called, but they served the most delicious rice, beans, and chapati (their flatbread). For just a couple dollars my sister and I would share rice and beans and each get our own Bitter Lemon soda and chapati. I could eat that stuff every day, and would have as long as the power was out! I tried to recreate this delectable dish back in Utah, but I couldn’t get the spices right… and I used dried beans which never softened up enough. My poor friends had to suffer through this ok and crunchy dish. #fail. Fast forward to today, with this fool proof cooking method, a bit more time and different spices, I feel like I’m almost in Uganda again eating this rice & beans dish, with the exception of chapati and Bitter Lemon soda, it’s almost as good. Because, let’s be honest nothing is just as good as when you get the authentic stuff!