Yes. It’s very good. On strawberries. And, in coffee with cream. In cakes, it would be sorely missed. You can tenderize venison in it. Or marinate a kebab. In fact, sugar is good in, on and around just about everything. But, taste aside, can any chemical (sucrose is a molecule, after all) be realistically termed good or bad?
Is arsenic good? Yes, for killing rats. Is opium good? Yes, for anesthesia. Are bombs good? Well, you be the judge on that, applying your moral compass according to what side of the bomb you’re facing.
Sugar can save lives. In Africa, sugar is the primary nutrient of an Oral Rehydration Salt solution used to combat malnutrition and dehydration. (That’s the notion behind Gatorade, in theory.) In hospitals, glucose drips feed those who cannot feed themselves. Glucose is the purest and simplest form of energy, sent right into the bloodstream. It requires no digestion, and uses no energy from the body.
In a recent school board meeting here in Charlottesville, when asked her views on sugar, the schools’ nutritional consultant said: “No nutrient is a bad nutrient.” When asked if sugar is just empty calories, she replied: “Some children don’t get enough calories.” True. In Africa. And on life support.
But, for most kids in America, they might be getting too much of a “good” thing. According to a recent study, the average American adolescent consumes an additional 23-34 teaspoons of sugar daily. That’s added sugar – not what they’re getting in their recommended serving of an apple (and a half) a day. Or their orange juice. Or their potatoes. Yes, potatoes.
A half cup serving of potatoes contains 15 g of saccharides. Turns out, in biochemistry, carbohydrate is synonymous with saccharide. Monosaccharides, are sugars. Polysaccharides are starches. But starches break right down to glucose. A commonly held belief, even among nutritionists, is that starches are somehow healthier than sugars. However, according to Harvard’s School of Public health, there appears to be no significant difference between them and their effect on blood sugar. So, 15 grams of sugar in a half cup of potatoes.
And you know what else I found out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition? No carbohydrate is an essential nutrient in humans. Carbohydrates are not necessary for life. The body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats.
OK, so what’s with the chemistry lecture? Actually, it’s a chemistry experiment. One that’s been going on for decades in America. What happens when you supplement an organism’s diet with an unessential nutrient? 30 teaspoons a day (what your average American ten year-old boy eats). I’d like to find out. And I’m willing to be the guinea pig.
Here’s the plan. Eat the same 30 teaspoons of added sugar as the average American adolescent – for six weeks. Periodically check my vitals: weight, blood sugar, vascular health, mental health (looking for ADHD symptoms) and whatever else my team of five doctors cares to look at. I will be the Sugar Daddy. Anything for science.