Sugar is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in many foods and is used by the body as an energy source.
A lot of food products, thanks to manufacturers, also contain added sugar which can lead a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high.
Consuming excessive amounts of added sugar can have adverse health effects, so guidelines recommend that people limit their intake.
Excess sugar consumption has been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, tooth decay, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and more.
But how much is too much sugar?
A gram (g) of sugar contains about 4 calories, which means that many people consume almost 270 calories a day from added sugar alone.
Before we go deep into this article, it’s good first we clarify that there are two types of sugars: added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables.
Added Sugars are mainly found in produced products such as Sweets, soft drinks and baked products.
In 2008, people in the United States were consuming over 60 pounds (28 kg) of added sugar per year — and this does not include fruit juices one of the highest cases in the world.
The average intake was 76.7 grams per day, which equals 19 teaspoons or 306 calories.
Sugar intake also varies between men, women, and children.
The AHA recommends a maximum daily added sugar intake of less than 36 g, or 9 teaspoons, for males and less than 25 g, or 6 teaspoons, for females. Children aged 2–18 years should have less than 25 g a day.
Here are some tips to help you reduce your sugar intake:
- Instead of adding sugar to sweeten oatmeal or cereal, top your bowl with your favorite fruit.
- Opt for low-calorie or sugar-free drinks instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Better yet, drink water (plain or sparkling).
- Enjoy fruit for dessert instead of cookies or pastries.
- Cut the amount of sugar you use in recipes for cakes and cookies, or switch out sugar completely by using unsweetened applesauce.
- Be mindful of condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce, which can be high in sugar, and opt for lower sugar options such as salsa, mustard or hot sauce.
- Read food labels and research restaurant menus online. Avoid the high-sugar options.