Fat or sugar, which is more harmful to our health? Both are important and both can be dangerous, but is one worse than the other?
We all know that fat or sugar in excess are harmful to our health, but after all which is more harmful, fat or sugar? And why do they affect our health and well-being so much? The studies are clear and consensual when they say that the best guarantee for a healthier life is through the adoption of a balanced dietavoiding processed foods rich in either sugars or fats.
However, over time, investigations have not been clear and if, at times, a diet excessive in fats has been identified as the main eating habit to be eradicated, at other times, high sugar consumption seems to be the main culprit for the problems. of health. But after all, which one potentiates the emergence of health problems, fat or sugar? Let’s find out!
Eating habits and health: what is the relationship?
There is no room for doubt, studies have consistently shown that poor eating habits among the Portuguese are one of the main responsible for the loss of years of healthy life🇧🇷 It is no coincidence that the diseases that most affect the Portuguese population (cardiovascular diseases; oncological diseases; arterial hypertension; dyslipidemia; diabetes; obesity) are more or less directly related to inadequate nutrition.
A recent investigation revealed that poor eating habits among the Portuguese were the second risk factor that most contributed to early mortality. In addition to eating habits, high blood pressure and high body mass index are also the risk factors that most contribute to early mortality.
Effects of excessive sugar consumption on health
We eat more sugar than we think, since sugar is present in almost all processed foods, namely bread, jams, cereal bars, cookies and many other foods. Recent data show that a large part of the Portuguese population has a higher than recommended sugar intake by the World Health Organization, mainly through the consumption of soft drinks, natural fruit juices or concentrates, cakes, biscuits, biscuits, breakfast cereals and children’s cereals.
Sugar is also important for the proper functioning of our body and for us to have energy, but the sugar that the organism needs is present in complex carbohydrates (legumes; vegetables; some vegetables) and in fruit (fructose is a fast sugar that contains fibers, which help digestion and increase satiety), however, the amount of sugar we eat daily is exaggerated and often comes from processed foods.
Excess sugar adds energy without any nutritional value associated (vitamins or minerals) and is dangerous for health. When we talk about the health dangers of excessive sugar consumption, we are not only talking about diabetes, but also about:
- Dental problems (in particular, tooth decay);
- Increased triglycerides in the blood;
- Increased blood pressure;
- Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver);
- Dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of lipids in the blood);
- Development of chronic diseases, namely cardiovascular diseases.
Effects of excessive fat consumption on health
As with sugar, not all fats are harmful and their consumption is important for the proper functioning of our body, however, it is important to distinguish the different types of fats:
The) At saturated fat, consisting of saturated fatty acids, when consumed in excess are associated with an increased risk of diseases of the circulatory and cardiac systems, increased blood cholesterol, particularly “bad” cholesterol, atherosclerotic disease, among other complications. This type of fat is found in butter, full-fat cheese, sausage and delicatessen products, lard and beef fat.
B) THE monounsaturated fat, made up of monounsaturated fatty acids, is present in olive oil, peanut oil, avocado and oilseeds such as walnuts and peanuts. The fatty acids present in this type of fat are those that are best tolerated by our body and help lower “bad” cholesterol and maintain cell integrity.
ç) THE polyunsaturated fat it is composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids) which are essential in the development of the organism, in the fight against infections and protectors of the cardiovascular system. Good sources of this type of fat are fish fat and dark green leafy vegetables. Naturally, when consumption is excessive, negative consequences can ensue, such as: premature cell aging; changes in blood clotting, with a tendency to hemorrhage; induction of the appearance of carcinomas; etc🇧🇷
Fat or sugar: which is worse for your health?
Now that we know a little better the importance but also the harmful effects of excessive consumption of either sugar or fat, it becomes simpler to answer the question about which is worse for health, fat or sugar, or maybe not. There are studies that argue that sugar is much more harmful to health, such as research that points the finger at fat, that is, the answer to this question it is not consensual🇧🇷
Thus, excessive intake of either sugar or fat can be harmful to health. It is known that both fat and sugar, when consumed in excess of the recommended dose, can increase the risk of insulin resistance and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as having an inflammatory role in the body.
Naturally, some pathologies seem to be more associated with excessive consumption of sugar (for example, obesity) and others with excessive consumption of fat (for example, cardiac pathologies), which does not pose a greater danger to one or the other, since the consumption of both be moderated.
In short, in the battle between those who defend that sugar is more harmful to health than fat, or vice versa, what seems to be consensual and truly important is that adopting a healthy and balanced diet is the best option and it is the one that guarantees greater longevity, better health and a better quality of life.
Article originally published in October 2021. Updated in September 2022.