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How Much Sugar Can We Eat?

We’re not saying ‘don’t eat sugar.’ We’re saying ‘don’t eat a lot of sugar.’

Dr. David L. Katz and Mark Bittman
Published in
10 min readFeb 26, 2020
Illustration: Alex Testere

When I was writing for the Opinion section of the Times, I had a number of close advisors. On nutrition matters, I came to rely more and more heavily on David Katz. Later, we became friends and, in 2018, I asked him to sit down and talk with me about how we should be eating, for a Grub Street piece which ran (untruthfully) as “The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right.”

The response was tremendous, as one of the most-read articles of the year — not just in food; not just for New York Magazine, but online, period.

What we didn’t realize until then, was the degree to which people are looking for guidance on how to eat from people they can trust. And that we qualified.

The net result is our new book, “How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered.” In it, we answer what we gathered and hope are the most pressing questions about diet that confront many readers. We think it’s a useful tool to understand, commit to and maintain a truly healthy diet, and one that will serve as a useful counter to all the bullshit out there. Here’s our second excerpt.

“How to Eat” by Mark Bittman and David L. Katz, M.D., is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available here on March 3.

Should I worry about the high sugar content of fruit?

No. Although we understand why you’re asking that, since there’ve been two major fads that renounced fruit in recent years. The first was the glycemic index; the second, fear-mongering about fructose.

What’s the glycemic index?

The glycemic index is a measure of how much a fixed amount of sugar in various foods raises our blood sugar. High blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes, is a bad and dangerous thing.

And fruit has a high glycemic index?

There’s a relatively high glycemic index for some fruits, and even for some vegetables. The conclusion was that these fruits drive up blood sugar, and the next conclusion was that fruit…



Dr. David L. Katz and Mark Bittman

Dr. Katz is the director of The Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and Mark Bittman has written about food and cooking for nearly 40 years.