We all know there’s sugar in foods like ice cream or desserts, but what about foods and snacks we eat everyday? How do you know if you’re eating too much sugar?
Sugar is easy to miss because it falls under many names and into many categories. Naturally occurring sugars, like lactose and fructose, naturally exist in foods such as milk and fruit. Added sugars are sugars added to foods, such as corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, sucrose, and syrup, to name a few.
Sugar is also in many of our most common foods and special-occasion sweets, like soft drinks, smoothies, cakes, cookies, fruit drinks, ice cream, and even sports drinks.
According to the American Heart Association, most Americans consume more than double the daily recommended amount of added sugars.
Many of us opt for artificial and natural sweeteners as a substitute for sugar. Labels such as “sugar-free” or diet sodas can seem like the healthier choice.
These names can be deceiving because many artificial or natural sweeteners are derived from sugar, such as sucralose. Natural sweeteners can also undergo processing and refining, including products like fruit juices, agave nectar, and stevia.
While some sugar substitutes seem like the better choice because they don’t have added calories, once they enter your body, many natural sweeteners don’t differ much from sugar, turning into glucose and fructose.
Reading nutrition labels to see what type and how many grams of sugar a product has can help guide your choices. Look closely at seemingly healthy choices, like canned fruit.
It might be surprising to consider that a 12 oz can of soda has 132.5 added calories from sugar, and 1 cup of canned peaches in heavy syrup contains 115.4 added calories from sugar.
Americans continue to consume more and more added sugars in their diets. This is a major cause of our obesity epidemic.
Reducing added sugars and even naturally occurring sugars in your diet helps to cut calories and can also help control weight and improve your heart health.
The recommended added sugar is no more than half of your daily calorie allowance. This is no more than 100 calories a day for women and 150 for men, approximately. This equals about 6 teaspoons/day for women and 9 teaspoons/day for men.
Although that may seem like a lot, when you consider how heavily sugar is used in processed foods and exists in even natural foods, it’s easy to see how we can exceed the recommended amount.
Start reading labels closely, especially on snacks and energy bars. Try sticking to unprocessed, whole foods and look for bars that are low in sugar, like thinkThin, which contain little to no sugar and are gluten free.
If you’re looking for healthy ways to avoid sugar, check out this post on 5 Healthy Alternatives to Sugar.
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