A bowl of sugar sitting on a kitchen counter, perfect for sweetening your tea.

The Surprising Truth About Sugar in Tea and Coffee

I don’t add sugar to my tea, but not out of health concerns. I simply don’t like my tea too sweet – even some herbal varieties are sweeter than I’d prefer. So when I came across a new study suggesting minor sugar additions to tea and coffee don’t actually increase diabetes, heart disease or mortality risks, I was surprised. Even though I’ll still take my own tea plain, these scientific findings definitely piqued my interest.

No Significant Health Risks Found for Minor Sugar Additions

Two cups of tea, known for their health benefits, sitting on a wooden table.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at data from the Copenhagen Male Study regarding sugar consumption among Danish men. The researchers were investigating whether adding sugar to coffee or tea had any link to negative health outcomes like diabetes, heart disease, cancer or early death.

What they found is that men who added sugar to their hot drinks did not have a heightened risk for developing these conditions or dying earlier, compared to those who drank their coffee and tea unsweetened.

Digging Into the Details

The study evaluated data from 2,923 middle-aged men over a 23-year period. None of these men had pre-existing health conditions like heart disease, cancer or diabetes at the outset. About 16% of them routinely added sugar to their coffee or tea.

By analyzing health outcomes between the group who sweetened their drinks and the ones who did not, the researchers determined that minor sugar additions did not significantly impact disease risk or mortality.

They theorized that the quantity of sugar added was likely small enough that it did not cause health problems over time. So stirring in a teaspoon or two seemed to be OK.

But Moderation Is Still Key

While this study suggests you don’t need to totally avoid sugar in your hot drinks, it’s still smart not to overdo it. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to:

  • No more than 9 tsp per day for men
  • No more than 6 tsp per day for women

Many commercially prepared specialty coffees and teas can pack in way more sugar than this if you choose syrupy flavors and whipped topping. So pay attention to nutrition labels.

As for me, I still won’t be adding sugar to my own tea at home. But if you occasionally enjoy a spoonful in your cup, this study indicates that small splurge seems pretty safe health-wise.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you add sugar to your coffee or tea? Has this study changed how you think about the habit?

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A self-proclaimed tea explorer, Jess began her journey with tea as a hobby and it quickly blossomed into an enchanting love affair. From the rich, historical tapestries of traditional Chinese blends, to the modern twists of herbal infusions, there’s no leaf unturned.

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