General Question

brettvdb's avatar

How bad for you is sugar in coffee?

Asked by brettvdb (1190 points ) May 19th, 2009

I drink a lot of coffee, and usually put a full sugar packet’s worth into each one I have. How bad is this for me? Will switching to sweetener benefit me at all?

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50 Answers

eponymoushipster's avatar

probably really bad for you – the paper is just a wrapper, and probably has germs all over it.~

try no sugar/sweetener at all. tastes way better, and better for you.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Sweeteners are bad especially if you drink a lot of coffee. That means you’re going to ingest a lot of sweetener many of which have big warning labels on them that say words like “cancer”. You’re better off sticking with sugar unless you’re diabetic or something.

Clair's avatar

Yea im sure im way germy but artificial sweeteners are more popular than the regular sugar and they are really bad for you. They have aspertame in them which me and my family have to avoid like the plague cuz they encourage migranes

robmandu's avatar

Sugar in your coffee is no worse for you than sugar anywhere else.

Well, except maybe sugar in your eyes. Because, man, that would suck.

bythebay's avatar

Sugar in coffee as opposed to sugar in anything/everything else? You have to determine if you’re willing to take the risk of using artificial sweeteners.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@robmandu sugar in your gas tank is worse still.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

It depends on the quality of your overall diet. It seems to me that if you have a relatively healthy diet, and you’re healthy in general, you should be able to overcome any bad effects of the relatively small amount of sugar that might be.

I drink anywhere from one to five cups of coffee a day (I love the stuff), and each cup has between 1/2 and one teaspoon of sugar. I maintain an otherwise healthy diet (well my wife does for me), so I think my overall diet and lifestyle compensate for any bad effects the sugar in my coffee would have.

robmandu's avatar

@epony, maybe sugar in your insulin shot?

Fyrius's avatar

Sugar = monosaccharide carbohydrate = energy that the body can immediately digest and put to use. I know throwing big technical words around is no help at all. I just like big technical words. :P

In a nuthsell, that means that unless you exercise a bit after every cup to use that energy, it’s going to be stored and in the long run make you fat.

cwilbur's avatar

It’s not bad for you, strictly speaking. It’s just calories—each packet is a teaspoon, which is about 15 calories, if I recall correctly.

The artificial sweeteners all have potential drawbacks of some sort. Saccharine (Sweet ‘n’ Low) has apparently caused cancer in some laboratory studies, but not all. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) causes headaches or migraines for some people, and breaks down chemically in hot beverages, meaning it isn’t that effective as a sweetener in the first place. Sucralose (Splenda) is new, and does not appear to have any bad side effects yet, but many people think it tastes different than sugar does.

So you get to decide if you want the calories or the potential side effects. For me, I take the calories.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@robmandu true. the inside of a condom?

Clair's avatar

Hehe this thread is funny. Especially considering i said i was germy lol

Fyrius's avatar

@Yetanotheruser: Oh wow, the chemical definition. That’s even more uselessly technical. :D

I tip my hat to you, good sir. Or I would if I had one.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The only link I can find between artificial sweeteners and cancer is that saccharin causes bladder cancer in rats. It doesn’t cause cancer in humans as the mechanism doesn’t occur in humans. A study of over 1/2 million people on aspartame found no link between aspartame consumption and developing cancer.

Still tastes like crap though…

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@Fyrius for some reason the only thing I remember from HS biology is the formula for photosynthesis: 6 CO2 + 6 H2O + (light)—> C6H12O6 + 6 O2. Kinda geeky, huh?

Clair's avatar

I drink whole milk and lots of fatty cheese, real butter and real sugar. Im not overweight in any way and i have no health problems, i dunno why people eat fake stuff if they dont have health problems that require it. Its all about limiting consumption. Although this has nothing to do with the question..

oratio's avatar

Artificial sweeteners make your body believe it receives real sugar, and produces insulin for that. Large amounts of sweeteners is provoking your body and atpounddollar with your insulin levels. I would go for real sugar, or nothing at all.
And never give artificial sweeteners to children.

Clair's avatar

@yetanotheruser yes yes! Talk chemistry to me! Oh god! Lol

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@Clair chemical, germy, chemical, germy heh-heh

Clair's avatar

Mmmmm ;D

Judi's avatar

If you don’t want the calories or the chemicals, try stevia.

RedPowerLady's avatar

It’s quite bad for you. All that extra sugar in your diet will have an impact on your health.
Recently I asked hubby to switch coffee sweeteners. He has been using Agave. He is picky too! And he enjoys it. My mother had to switch due to health concerns and is now using Stevia and enjoys it. Both of those are natural, no chemical, sweetners. If you buy them organic (say at Trader Joes) then they are even better for you! A bottle of Agave is only 2.00 whereas Stevia is a bit expensive but lasts longer. They are naturally sweet but don’t have the same affect on your body as sugar. And you don’t have to worry about the poor health effects in regards to artificial sweetners.

ahimsa16's avatar

I’ve battled being overweight my whole life. Interestingly, I’ve been vegetarian (largely vegan) for about 15 years AND for the last several years, I have been working out 4–5 days a week, doing cardio, resistance training, spinning and hiking with my wife outside of the gym. All that….and still….no real weight loss.

Fast forward to 4 weeks ago. I saw a new nutritionist. A Dr. with a book called “The Food Tree”. She looked at my “healthy” diet and said, “well, you’re malnourished.” Despite all the “whole grains” and “whole wheat” and whatnot, all carbs are SUGAR! Biochemically speaking——the body sees no difference b/t a spoonful of sugar and a slice of whole wheat bread!!! Don’t believe me——read the book——you’ll flip out!

She took me off all simple carbs (since they are essentially sugar) and upped my protein from about 50–60 grams a day (as a vegetarian) to 140 grams!

In 4 weeks, I’m down 14 lbs. I feel amazing! For the first few weeks, my body was going through “withdrawl” symptoms while I got off sugar (and I never eat sweets, cookies, etc….this sugar I cut out was all in the form of carbs), but I’m cool now.

Sugar is naturally found in fruit and veggies we eat——cut out the rest. It’s poison. seriously…I firmly believe that now.

It’s crazy, crazy bad for you.

ahimsa16's avatar

Dr. Ranveig Elvebakk (Norweigan born, nutritionist and weight M.D.)

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ahimsa16 So what types of breads do you eat or do you not eat them?
I am very interested in healthy diet options but find myself lacking a lot of diet education so I always ask questions when I get the chance.

DarkScribe's avatar

Sugar, all sugar offers no health benefit. It is simple carbohydrate and one that although not “addictive” physiologically, can be addictive psychologically. Unless you are an athlete, then consuming sugar is going to add weight, and make it very difficult to lose weight. Most “recent” research support a reduced carbohydrate diet as the most effective way to lose and maintain weight loss – not the old “Low fat” diets that started the obesity trend. (Look at the timeframes, weight increase as against popularity of low fat diets.) Ingested fat does not turn into body fat, but ingested carbs do. Sugar is probably one of the most ubiquitous carbs in the world – it is added to everything. There are a number of substitutes, Aspartame and Splenda being the two most common currently. One often overlooked sweetener, not approved for sale in the US except in health food stores, is Stevia. Is is used in Japan, where most other sweeteners are banned., as well as some European countries and in South America where it was first discovered.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@DarkScribe Now I had no idea that Stevia wasn’t approved for sale in stores that were not health food stores. Of course I shop particularly at health food stores. Why is that?

DarkScribe's avatar

@RedPowerLady The rumor goes that it has been thwarted by the Aspartame lobby. It is not unapproved, there is nothing claimed to be wrong with it, it simply has not been able to go through a convoluted approval process. I grow my own, it is an herb, it grows as easily as mint or basic, but into a small bush. The leaves are several thousand times as sweet as sugar. You only use a minute quantity. In Denmark, small scale tests have indicated that it might actually help type 2 diabetes suffers. It is hard to combat the big companies that are established in the sweeter market, but it would seen to be worthwhile. As it isn’t approved, it cannot be sold as a sweetener in the US, but it can be sold as an herb, or a “Flavour Enhancer” in Health Food stores. Many South American tribes have used it for centuries as sweetener and medicinal herb, as far back as the Aztecs. It is now one of China’s major export crops, but home grown or South American tastes better, just sweet with no aftertaste. The Chinese version has a very slight aniseed aftertaste.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@DarkScribe Thanx for the information. I suspected that might be the issue.
Thankfully hubby works at an organic herb warehouse so we often get merchandise discounted and occasionally for free. Stevia is one of those, my mother uses it now. Hubby uses Agave, another natural sweetener.

DarkScribe's avatar

@RedPowerLady What is ironic is that where I live is smack in the middle of sugar cane country. All along the coast here all you can see are canefields. They have lost an enormous amount of culinary business and are now focused on ethanol for alternate fuel sources.

ahimsa16's avatar

Thanks @DarkScribe! A wealth of information!

@RedPowerLady – To get me the extra protein I need, I have to have a few shakes a day that she provides me. One is 35 grams of protein and I have that at lunch with a salad. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon, I have these 15 gram protein “kool-aid-esque” drink. Both are really easy to drink——they don’t taste like crap!

Over the course of the rest of the day, I eat: lowfat cottage cheese, 2 pieces of fruit (in their original form—no smoothies—that releases the sugars in the fruit quicker and your body metabolizes it faster—that’s no good), tofu, all kinds of veggies (the less cooked the better).

no bread, no tortilla, no chips, no potatos, no corn, no rice pasta, no wheat pasta, no couscous…..those are all just sugar.

It seems daunting, but give it a few weeks and you’ll see——it works. Dr. Elvebakk’s approach is simple: We’ve are made up of 2 bodies within our body; a “lean” body (muscles, tissue, heart, lungs, etc) and that is all made up of protein. We need to feed that protein to encourage it to work in our favor. We also have a “fat” or insular body (which we need—don’t get me wrong). Our fat bodies are fueled by sugar and fat. Wanna stop encouraging your “fat” body to go crazy on you? Stop feeding it what it needs to expand. We get the sugar we need from good sources like fruit.

Up the protein——a lot! This is not about “low carb” dieting. It’s quite different. Atkins was onto part of the equation, but he neglected the “fat” component. We need that. Dr. Elvebakk encourages olive oil, flax oil, avacado, etc.

Sugar may yield ethanol and that may be ok in a gas tank, but it’s NOT good in our bodies.

During my 2nd week off sugar, I would get the shakes—all jittery b/c my body just wanted a PB & J sandwich——that’s when I realized that despite not eating “sweets”, I was still addicted to sugar.

It’s been eye-opening.

ahimsa16's avatar

want a veggie burger? Fine. Just skip the bread, make the cheese lowfat, add some avocado and have a salad instead of fries.

Try wraps using butter lettuce instead of a tortilla—not bad at all.

Learn to love lowfat cottage cheese and cheese sticks

eat meat? Go the grilled chicken route or fish

There are options, but it REALLY helps if you are into all kinds of veggies!

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ahimsa16 Thanx for the information. It is very interesting.
I had no idea about the smoothies releasing the sugar quicker. I find that interesting and may have to do more research on it.
There are two things I find odd about this diet, if I may be blunt. And that is deleting things such as rice from your diet, to me, is never a good idea. Rice is an essential component of half the worlds diet. And secondly it sounds like it has a lot of dairy and dairy, despite the nutrients, is also quite bad for our bodies. Other than that I think it has great components. I love your food ideas you posted! And the parts about deleting sugar and not ignoring complex fats like olive oil and avacado are really good.

casheroo's avatar

I dump quite a bit of sugar into my coffee. It’s organic so it’s okay ;)

DarkScribe's avatar

@casheroo Organic? As compared to plastic or metallic sugar?

No sugar is good for you and as sugar is plantation grown, it is all as “organic” as the next. I have yet to see, or hear of an “organic” sugar plantation.

eponymoushipster's avatar

coughcough she was being sarcastic coughcough

RedPowerLady's avatar

@casheroo now i like that, does that mean I can have as much cake as I want as long as i get from the organic bakery down the street ;)

DarkScribe's avatar

@eponymoushipster Maybe, but I see so many people, mostly female, who fall for this “it’s organic” nonsense that I can’t be sure. The local Gloria Jean’s Coffee Shop has “organic” coffee crystals on the menu. I watch all the green woman buy it. (The ordinary sugar is free.)

eponymoushipster's avatar

@DarkScribe true. i mean, my dumps are organic.

oratio's avatar

@eponymoushipster examine your zipper.

Garebo's avatar

Use Stevia, strong and tastes good, and good for you.

brettvdb's avatar

I’m glad that this turned into such a great conversation. I am definitely going to try removing sugar altogether from my coffee – it will take a bit to get used to but it seems like the payoff will be worthwhile. This has also prompted me to start eliminating sugar from other areas of my diet, especially the carbs!

ahimsa16's avatar

No kidding—- you will feel the cravings in the first week…like you’re “jonesing” for a cigarette, but that’s proof that people are addicted to it!

Good luck! You can do it!

cwilbur's avatar

@DarkScribe: sounds like a marketing win.

casheroo's avatar

@DarkScribe I was being sarcastic. I do use a ton of sugar, and it is organic cane juice…I know all sugar is bad for me. I don’t eat a ton of junk, so I splurge with a lot of sugar in my coffee. I work at a fitness studio, and work off all that stored sugary fat, so I hope it evens out. haha

bagelface's avatar

Xylitol. I used stevia for a while, but it has a horrible aftertaste.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Sugar in my coffee is not as bad for me as many sugar substitutes would be if I used them instead. I do a lot of physical work during a typical day, so a teaspoon or two of sugar to fire up my caffeine won’t hurt me.

Fernspider's avatar

@ahimsa16 – I was curious about the statement you made about couscous and sugar (“no bread, no tortilla, no chips, no potatos, no corn, no rice pasta, no wheat pasta, no couscous…..those are all just sugar.”) so I did a little research and discovered the following:

Nutritional Value of cooked couscous

No sugar :)

Couscous is high in selenium which is really benificial to your health. Link

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