Have you ever wondered how much sugar is too much?
In August 2009, the American Heart Association (AHA) published guidelines in ‘Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association’ suggesting that our sugar intake be limited to no more than 6 teaspoons added sugar (25 grams or 100 calories) for women and no more than 9 teaspoons added sugar (37 grams or 150 calories) for men per day. Can you guess what the average American consumes each day in added sugars? A whopping 22 teaspoons (355 calories) each day!
How will you know if you’re eating added sugars?
In addition to the obvious table sugar that you might add to sweeten your coffee or cereal, look out for the following ingredients in sweetened drinks and packaged foods such as cereal, yogurt, desserts, candy, soda, and fruit drinks:
Sugar (all kinds: brown, raw, sugar cane)
High fructose corn syrup
The American Heart Association’s new guidelines apply to added sugars, not to those naturally found in fruit and milk, such as fructose and lactose. However, food manufacturers are not required to list the amount of added sugars separately from the amount of naturally occurring sugars on food labels; the two are combined together in the total grams of sugar. That makes it really hard for us to know if we’re choosing a product that has a lot of added sugar vs. natural sugar, but read on for important tips on how to tell which is which.
Here’s how you can be sure to limit added sugars:
1. Choose fresh foods more often.
2. Limit eating processed packaged foods.
3. When eating processed packaged foods, try to avoid those that have the above ingredients listed as one of the first three ingredients on the label. The higher an ingredient is on the ingredient list of the nutrition label, the more of that ingredient is in the product.
4. Cut out beverages such as regular sodas, and juices that are not 100% fruit juice (1 can of soda has about 8 teaspoons of added sugar!).
5. Use sweeteners such as honey and sugar (any kind!) only in very small amounts.
So what’s at stake?
If your intake of added sugar is near the intake of the average American, at 22 teaspoons per day, and you make the decision to limit your added sugar intake to the new AHA guidelines stated above, you’ll decrease your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Are you ready to tackle the added sugars in your diet? Set just one goal to reduce your sugar intake this week.
About the Blogger:
Ursula Ridens is a Registered Dietitian, speaker and health educator. Visit her website at UrsulaRidens.com for more info!