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Is sugar unhealthy?

August 1, 2022

It depends on the amount and the food source.

cropped photo showing the hands and torso of a man refusing a doughnut and choosing an apple from a bowl of assorted fruit

Sugar has a complex relationship with health. On one hand, many healthy whole foods contain natural sugar. But the greater concern is the abundance of refined sugar often added to processed foods.

"Sugar is a carbohydrate that provides the body with energy, so it has an important role in nutrition," says Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "The problem people have with sugar is they often consume too much of the wrong kind."

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