Sugar is sugar but naturally occurring sugar (that is found in dairy and fruit + veggies) is of course better for you.
Added sugars are any sugars added during the manufacturing or consumption of products (meaning added by you!).
According to the American Heart Association (AHA),
“Women and children should not exceed 6 tsp (24 grams total) of added sugar and men 9 teaspoons (36 grams total).”
*To note: 1 teaspoon = 4 grams
That is the goal / top line. What is actually happening?
Whelp, we are not in great shape! The AHA reports “American adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, more than 3 times the recommended amount for women. This adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar annually – that’s six, 10-pound bowling balls, folks! The numbers are even worse for children. American kids consume 81 grams per day, equaling over 65 pounds of added sugar per year. Think of it this way – children are ingesting over 30 gallons of added sugars from beverages alone. That’s enough to fill a bathtub!”
Sure if we eat that cookie or cake, we know we are intaking sugar. What about the rest of our diet? I think most people are aware of the amount of sugar hiding in beverages, but let’s dive into some other products.
Additional top 5 food with added sugars that you may not think about:
- Marinara Sauce
- Processed Foods+ Wine
Yogurt: A typical fruit yogurt has 10-15 grams of added sugar in one serving (with the total sugar being closer to 30 grams). Remember up top when I shared the recommended intake: 6 tsp (24 grams total) of added sugar for woman and children and men 9 teaspoons (36 grams total). In some cases that is almost your entire day’s recommended intake at breakfast!
Bread: Honestly, I am not really sure why bread often contains sugar, but go home and check yours and let me know if this falls true for you?
Condiments + Sauces: Also check out your favorite ketchup, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, etc. Not only do most all of them have added sugar, a lot of them have high fructose corn syrup which is worse! Your body has a hard time breaking down and utilizing the fructose.
Processed Foods: 80% of processed foods have added sugar. Sugar is often added when a product is claiming to be low carb or low fat. (and you actually want fat when you are eating sugar to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream)
Wine: Some wine has as much sugar as a soda!
1. Buy plain yogurt and blend up with frozen fruit. If you want some additional sweetener, add a teaspoon of honey (which is only 4 grams compared to 20-30). Additionally, honey is often far less processed and comes with other benefits.
2. Skip the bread and use a tortilla or lettuce / collard leaf for a wrap.
3. Begin reading labels. Plus make sure you are looking at serving size. (My personal goal is to aim for a product that does not have more than 8-10 grams of sugar per serving and even that is an occasional treat – usually a granola bar).
- To note, ingredients are listed in order based on quantity added. Michael Pollen recommends, as one of his Food Rules that you avoid foods that have some form of sugar or sweetener listed among the top three ingredients.
- Also, be aware of companies that use multiple types of sugar so they can list them separately in the ingredient list. (I will add a list below of different names for sugars)
- Reviewing the sugar content of the label works as products begin to comply with the FDA regulations to include added sugars on the label. Still a good idea to review the ingredients list.
4. Listen to your body and consume in moderation. Back off and give your body a break when needed.
5. Don’t drink your sugar!
7. Don’t add in artificial sweeteners. That brings a whole other level of concern, but I’ll save that for another day. If I truly need some added sweetness and don’t want to use honey or maple syrup, I add a little bit of liquid good quality stevia plant. Check out what brand I like here.
8. Opt for sugar free wine (yes it exists)
Sugar Names (although likely not exclusive)
- agave nectar
- barley malt
- beet sugar
- brown rice syrup
- brown sugar
- cane crystals
- cane sugar (pure cane sugar)
- coconut sugar
- corn sweetener
- corn syrup
- crystalline fructose
- date sugar
- evaporated cane juice
- fruit juice concentrates
- granulated sugar
- high fructose corn syrup
- invert sugar
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
- palm sugar
- raw sugar
- rice bran syrup
- table sugar