Large amounts of sucrose aren’t worth their weight in sweetness. Commonly known as table sugar, sucrose is available in raw form for cooking, but it's also found in baked goods and packaged foods. Because sucrose contains a high calorie punch with no nutritional value, Medline Plus recommends that men limit their sugar intake to nine teaspoons a day, and women to no more than six. Consuming more than the recommended daily limit on a regular basis can lead to both short-term and long-term side effects.
When you consume too much sucrose in one meal, you may experience a “sugar crash” within a few hours. This refers to sudden spikes and falls in your blood sugar. You might temporarily feel energetic during the spike, then feel undesirable effects during the fall. Some of the most common side effects are sudden tiredness, headaches and irritability.
Sugar is a large contributor to tooth decay. Sucrose in sweetened foods and beverages has a tendency to stick to tooth enamel, which creates a breeding ground for cavities. Sugar can also alter natural bacteria levels in the mouth and promote the gum disease called gingivitis. Tooth decay can eventually lead to tooth loss, so it’s important to address causes of decay early in life.
Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance
Because sugar is high in calories, eating large amounts of sugary foods can lead to weight gain. This weight gain is exacerbated in children and adults who also eat large amounts of fats and carbs. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for life-threatening illnesses, and can also make daily tasks more difficult and tiring. Heavy sugar intake over time may also attribute to insulin resistance, a marker of type 2 diabetes. While more studies are needed to prove such effects, it’s a fact that high sucrose consumption can effect glucose levels in current diabetic patients.
A high-fat diet isn’t the only dietary contributor to high cholesterol. In fact, large amounts of sucrose consumed over time can increase triglyceride levels. While these fats are naturally present in the blood, too much can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, this is attributed to a diet in which 20 percent or more of all food intake is sucrose. High triglyceride levels often go hand in hand with obesity, but this is not always the case. Sucrose can also affect your cholesterol levels by decreasing the level of high-density lipoproteins, better known as the “good” cholesterol.