We Americans eat a lot of sugar. Why? Because it tastes good. The American Heart Association recommends 6 added teaspoons a day for women and 8 teaspoons per day for men. While most Americans' consumption of sugar comes from soda pop, there is also hidden sugar in many foods.
To be clear, we are talking about added sugar, not naturally occurring sugar found in fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Sugar is not inherently bad for you; it's the excessive amount that become a problem. Lots of sugar means lots of calories, which may lead to weight gain and put one at greater risk for certain diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to list all the ingredients in their food products on the label. Food labels also must list the amount of sugars in grams per serving. While most of us recognize sugar, or sucrose, there are other ingredients that are very similar to sugar and should be noted:
- Any food with sugar in its name; for example, coconut sugar or date sugar
- Cane juice
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Glucose solids
- High fructose corn syrup
- Nectar; for example, apricot or agave nectar
- Sweet sorghum
- Syrup and any food with syrup in its name, such as rice syrup or maple syrup
Here are some practical tips for decreasing sugar in your diet:
- Focus on fresh foods. These will not have added sugars.
- Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. These foods will provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which will help with cravings. The fruit will also help satisfy a sweet tooth.
- If you like to have sweets in your everyday diet, try to limit it to 100-200 calories per day. You may also consider saving dessert for once or twice a week.
Good health to you!