When you see candy, you immediately know that it is a sweet food. The same goes for dessert table delights such as cakes and cookies. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see melty ice cream on the list.
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But when you see a jar of pasta sauce, do you think of “sugar bombs” or whole grain cereals? Or fruit yogurt? Certain types of these foods actually have a lot of added sugar, which is really bad for you.
Limiting your sugar intake is important for your overall health. Adding too much sugar can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
But where is the line between what is okay to consume and what can be damaging? And how can you avoid crossing that line? Join Beth Chewony, RD, and LD to find the “sweet spot” in this dining dilemma.
How much sugar is too much?
Discussions about sugar intake and health usually focus on “added sugar.” These are sweeteners added during food processing and preparation. (More on this later.)
This “added sugar” makes what you eat and drink very palatable. However, it provides no real nutritional benefits and adds a lot of calories.
“Adding sugar does nothing to the body other than to satisfy the taste buds,” Cherwanyi repeats.
This is why current dietary guidelines recommend adding sugar to less than 10% of your daily caloric intake. So if he consumes 2,000 calories a day, he shouldn’t exceed 200 of his sugar-added calories.
That 200 calories is equivalent to 12 teaspoons (48 grams) of added sugar. To put it into perspective, one can of soda may contain a whole day’s worth of sugar.
where sugar is added
The truth is that avoiding added sugar can be difficult. When researchers surveyed US grocery store shelves, they found that 68 percent of bar-coded food products contained sweeteners. That’s more than 2 of his 3 items in the average cart.
What’s really despicable? Added sugar goes by many names in ingredient lists, says Czerwony. Aliases include:
updated nutrition label
Here’s the good news. The Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and beverages has recently changed to make it easier to identify added sugars. A redesign by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes designated spots for added sugar.
The new standard requires manufacturers to share the amount of added sugar per serving in their food and how it fits in a 2,000-calorie diet (% of daily intake). I’m here.
“If you want to control your sugar intake, it’s important to look at the label,” says Chewony. “You’ll probably be surprised to find an unexpected amount of sugar added to your food.”
- pasta sauce.
- ketchup and barbecue sauce.
- protein bar.
- Granola bar.
- Sports Drink.
- chocolate milk.
- breakfast cereal.
- canned fruit.
- Dried fruit.
For more information on how to read the Nutrition Facts label, click here.
What about natural sugars?
Sugar isn’t just “added” to food. Sugar may also be naturally present in some foods, such as fruits and milk. So why is it not a big concern?
“The human body generally processes natural sugars better than sugars that are added to foods for their sweetening effect,” explains Chelwony. “In addition, many foods with natural sugars offer other nutritional benefits that processed foods do not.”
So while a banana or glass of milk is high in sugar, other vitamins and nutrients help offset that sweetness.
You’re also less likely to overeat fruit and milk than you would be to eat an entire bag of cookies. “Many people don’t come to health care because they’re worried about eating too many apples,” says Chewony.
Tips for managing sugar intake
i am addicted to sugar. This is a self-evaluation Ms. Chelwony often hears in her work. So let’s start with the good news. Sugar addiction is not a diagnostic name on the medical record.
However, if you’re worried about eating too many sweets, try these tips.
- start tracking. Understanding where the added sugar comes from is the first step to reducing it. Sometimes reducing just one or two items can make a big difference.
- read the label. A good rule of thumb is to try to avoid foods and drinks with more than 10 grams of added sugar. “By keeping that number in the single digits, he can prevent the total from getting too large,” suggests Chelwony.
- limit the amount. When the urge strikes, eat one donut instead of two.
- eat a balanced diet. If you skip meals or your diet is nutrient deficient, your body can quickly crave sugar for distraction. “If you fill your stomach with fruits, veggies, and lean protein, you’re more likely to stop looking for something sweet later,” says Chewony.