High sugar consumption increases obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, heart and liver disease, and tooth decay. Despite these conditions, a person in the USA consumes about 20 teaspoons or 80 grams of sugar per day — which is way more than the maximum recommended daily intake.
In fact, the country had 10.98 million metric tons of sugar in 2018–2019, 11.17 million metric tons in 2019- 2020, and 11 million metric tons in 2020- 2021. It’s no surprise that the 34.2 million Americans, that is, just over 1 in 10, have diabetes. And 88 million American adults, around 1 in 3, have prediabetes.
How much sugar is too much?
Honestly, there is no such thing as ‘too much sugar.’ Some people can have a lot of sugar and still stay healthy. And others need to track their sugar intake to keep alive. However, based on the general trend, the American Heart Association has recommended limits for sugar consumption.
According to them:
- Men can have 37.5 grams or nine teaspoons of sugar.
- Women and children (between 2 and 18) can consume 25 grams or six teaspoons of sugar.
This means that an average person in the USA consumes around 10 to 15 teaspoons of sugar in excess.
So, it’s high time you take control of your sugar cravings and lead an intelligent, healthy life.
Firstly, you need to understand to differentiate harmful sugar from helpful sugar.
Added Sugar V.s. Natural Sugar
Added sugars are, as the term suggests, excess sugars that are added to a food item. The sugar in candies, pastries, and energy drinks are added sugars. This type of sugar is harmful to the body, and you should avoid them. Naturally obtained sugars like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar are also considered added sugar.
Some of the other added sugars are:
- Sugar molecules ending with ‘ose’ like sucrose and fructose.
- Refined white, brown, raw, invert, malt, and coconut sugar.
- Syrups like maple, corn, and high-fructose corn.
- Corn sweetener
- Fruit juice concentrates
Natural sugars are those from fruits, vegetables, and milk. These foods contain nutrients, fibers, vitamins, and minerals, along with sugars.
How can you avoid having added sugar?
You can minimize the amount of added sugars in your diet by:
- Drinking water instead of soft drinks like Pepsi, Cola, etc. Avoid fruit juices, as they contain as much added sugars as soft drinks.
- Controlling the intake of candies, chocolates, and sweets.
- Limiting consumption of baked foods like cookies, biscuits, and pastries.
- Use cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, and other substituents for sugars. Get natural, zero-calorie sugar substitutes like stevia and monk fruit.
How much sugar does a packed food contain?
Reading the label of the food item can give you an idea about its sugar content. However, this isn’t easy due to the usage of different names for sugars. Few businesses might use dehydrated cane juice, whereas others might show fructose. So, you need to know that sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, syrup, cane sugar, etc., are all added sugars. You can always search on the internet about any confusing ingredient and figure out whether it’s an added sugar.
Also, know that items labeled ‘healthy’ could have high amounts of sugar in them.