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The Surprising Amount of Sugar Youre Probably Eating

Posted April 18, 2017 by Michelle Kaluzne RDN, LD

Let’s face it, sugar makes food taste good and you can find it in almost every single food we eat. It’s in the obvious candies, soft drinks, cookies and baked goods, but it’s also hidden in unsuspecting foods like ketchup and cereals.

It’s no wonder that we’ve steadily consumed more and more sugar in our diets over the last 30 years, and this has contributed to our obesity epidemic because it can lead to an intake of excess calories. Reducing our sugar intake takes some work, but it can help control your weight and improve your health.

It can be challenging to find these sneaky sources of sugar, and the trick to reducing your sugar intake is reading nutrition labels. First, look for alternate names of sugar, such as:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • And more

Second, know how much added sugar you should be consuming and keep track. Added sugars are sugars that are added to the food and don’t occur naturally, such as in fruit or milk. According to the American Heart Association*, women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars (25g or 6 teaspoons), and men should consume no more than 150 calories (36g or 9 teaspoons of added sugar) per day. In 2018, the FDA plans to change the Nutrition Facts Label to include “added sugar” under “total sugar” to help consumers understand how much sugar has been added to the product.

Sometimes it can be a little confusing for consumers because yogurt or pasta sauce has some natural sugars in them as well as added sugar.  For a 6oz yogurt it is best to keep the sugar under 18 grams to help minimize the added sugar.

To understand the American Heart Association’s recommendation, here are some common foods that can contribute to the overconsumption:

  • 1 can of regular soda – 39g of sugar
  • 1 chocolate frosted yeast donut – 14g of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of ketchup – 4g of sugar
  • 1 cookie from a bakery – 30g of sugar
  • ¾ cup of honey nut cereal  – 9g of sugar

If we consume these foods on a daily basis, and in quantities larger than the recommended servings, it’s easy to see how we can consume too much sugar. Being aware how much sugar is in your servings and knowing how much you should consume will help you stay within healthy limits. Once you start limiting your sugar, you may notice that when you have something very sweet that you may not want as much of it.  Your taste buds adjust and your “sweet tooth” becomes more subdued.

Finally, to help lower your sugar consumption, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, cut back on table sugar or honey that you add to coffees or teas, eat smaller servings of foods high in sugar, and swap out soda with water or seltzer.

Michelle Kaluzne RDN, LD
Food & Nutrition Manager
Summa Health

*Source: Sugar 101


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