You Can Kick Added Sugar
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 10% of your daily calorie allowance from added sugar. This is equal to 12 teaspoons a day, which seems generous (assumes a 2000 calorie diet). Yet, 7 out of 10 Americans consume 22.5 teaspoons of sugar a day, almost twice as much as the recommended amount. Too much added sugar can stack on the pounds, but it also matters to our health. Some studies have shown an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes independent of weight.
Like salt, added sugar is hidden. It slips into our diet without being noticed. For example, one 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons of sugar, which is two-thirds of the daily recommended amount. Likewise, one muffin contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar. If you were to have one muffin and a cup of sweetened yogurt for breakfast, you would have already consumed the daily recommended amount of sugar.
Added sugar is hiding in places that might surprise you. For example, in some brands, one tablespoon of ketchup contains 4 grams of sugar, or a teaspoon of sugar. Many times we eat more than one tablespoon of ketchup with our fries or sandwich. Would we pile three or more teaspoons of sugar on top of our fries? I think not—but that is exactly what we are doing when we eat our fries with a few tablespoons of ketchup depending on the brand.
What to do?
Do the math.
A teaspoon is a familiar unit of measure but a gram is not. The food label describes the amount of sugar in grams. To do the math, 1 teaspoon of sugar is equal to about 4 grams of sugar. By converting the grams of sugar to teaspoons, you will have a more realistic idea of the amount of sugar the product contains. As mentioned 12 teaspoons is 48 grams of sugar. As a a rule of thumb strive for less than 50 grams of sugar per day. For children, it is recommended that no more than 3 teaspoons of added sugar be consumed daily, which is 12 grams.
Know your sugar.
Added sugar comes in many forms. There are the “ose” family of sugars”—such as maltose, sucrose, fructose, or glucose. Other names include corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, cane syrup, cane sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, or muscovado. You will find added sugar on the ingredient list of the products.
Make small shifts in your diet.
Like many things in life, it is about balance. Some sugar is okay, the problem is the quantity. Here are some small shifts you can make for a healthier you.
- Shift from fruit products with added sugar to a piece of fruit.
- Shift from snacks with added sugar to veggies and homemade yogurt ranch dip. Try our homemade yogurt ranch dip.
- Shift from a sugar-sweetened beverage to water flavored with fruit.