The moderation myth can turn a soda into a death sentence

Water's wet, the sky is blue and sugar is bad for you.

You won't find anyone with even half a brain who'd argue with that. Yet millions of people are under the illusion that you can get away with having just a little bit of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

I call it "the moderation myth," and it's not based on science. It's a scheme cooked up by marketing teams as soda sales went flat, a slick deception that has millions of people believing that they can make room in their diet for a treat such as a can of soda.

But new research pops the top off this lie, showing how the amounts of sugar even the U.S. government will tell you are perfectly safe could do the kind of metabolic damage that will set the stage for a lifetime of chronic disease.

In the study, 85 adults were given either no sugar at all or different levels of high-fructose corn syrup over 15 days. Some got 10 percent of their calories from HFCS, some got 17.5 percent and some got 25 percent, all from soda.

Within just 15 days, the folks who got the HFCS in any amount at all -- even the lowest amount -- saw their LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels rise.

It's more proof that one of the biggest reasons for high cholesterol isn't fatty food.

It's sugar.

The bigger the intake, the more those cholesterol and triglyceride levels jumped, according to the study. But what's so amazing here is that all three were within the limits set by the Institute of Medicine, which claims you can safely get up to 25 percent of your calories from sugar.

Other health agencies say get no more than 10 percent of your calories from added sugars, but the new study shows even that amount is far too much.

So forget trying to stay within these overly generous guidelines, and forget the notion of moderation -- because it's a myth. The only truly safe amount of added sugar in your diet is none at all, and that's as true for plain old sugar as it is for high-fructose corn syrup.

Stick to simple old water or seltzer. And if you're looking for some flavor, infuse it with fruit or brew up some herbal tea.