Sugar (da-da-da-da-da-da) oh honey honey (da-da-da-da-da-da)…
Did you know that many Americans get way too much added sugar in their diets? According to Livestrong.com’s article, “How much Sugar Allowance a Day”, since the 1800’s, the average American’s sugar consumption has increased more than 1500 percent…That’s crazy!! The American Heart Association explains that average Americans get about 22.2 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is about 355 calories. Teenagers and men are the largest consumers of added sugars. A huge culprit of the large amount of added sugars consumed is from soft drinks or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
So, what’s the big deal? Sugar adds extra calories and has zero nutrients. Adding too much sugar could lead to weight gain and can also lead to deficiencies in other important nutrients. Many foods that contain high amounts of added sugars are highly processed, can have a high amount of solid fats, and do not contain many vitamins, minerals and other healthy components. Eating added sugar is not a horrible thing if done in moderation.
Photo taken from dessertswithbenefits.com
What are added sugars?
- Added sugars are those that are added during preparation or processing. These sugars do not include naturally occurring sugars like lactose (found in milk) or sugars that are found in fruit (fructose). Side note: Eat fruit! The sugar in it is naturally occurring and the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals found in it are soooo awesomeJ. Foods with naturally occurring sugars still have nutrients, so they do not count as added sugars.
What is the recommended amount of added sugar?
- The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your discretionary calories (the “extra” calories that you have at the end of the day after you have met all of your nutrient needs) come from added sugars. That means that most American women should have no more than 100 calories per day (or 6 teaspoons) of added sugars, and most American men should have no more than 150 calories (or 9 teaspoons) a day.
Reading the labels: What to look for
- We all have a very powerful tool when we go grocery shopping…nutrition labels! Most of us look at calories and maybe fat, but do we stop to look at the sugar content? A food is high in sugar if sugar is one of the first three ingredients listed. Look for products that have 10 or less grams of sugar per serving in them. Cereal is a great food to compare sugar grams. Of course there are many sugary cereals that do have lots and lots of added sugars, but did you know that some of the “healthy” cereals have just as much or more added sugars as the sugary ones? Check it out next time you go to the store!
- Look for foods that say “No Sugar Added”. The fresher and more natural the food, the less added sugar it has!
How can I tell if a product has added sugars in it?
- Unfortunately, product labels do not differentiate between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars. Know that if the product contains milk or fruit, it has some naturally occurring sugar in it. Names of added sugars to look for on labels (American Heart Association suggestions):
- Brown Sugar
- Corn Sweetener
- Corn Syrup
- Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Fruit Juice Concentrates
- Invert Sugar
- Malt Sugar
- Raw Sugar
Next time you go to the grocery store, look for those added sugars! Remember all things are good in moderation, but you don’t have to get caught in the sugar rush.
Have a wonderful day!