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The Sweet Stuff

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The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends following a healthy eating pattern that limits added sugars and to consume no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar. Similarly, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for woman and 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons daily for men. However, unfortunately the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that American’s are eating around 30 teaspoons of added sugar daily, well over these recommendations. Yikes!

So, we’ve established that we are definitely eating way too much sugar, but why is it bad for us? Sugar can be both naturally occurring in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) or added to foods during processing which is generally referred to as added sugar. Added sugar has been linked to a variety of illnesses and chronic diseases such as obesity, poor gut health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and behavioral issues. On top of that, sugar provides lots of calories and lacks in healthy vitamins and minerals.

How can we eat less sugar?  Sugar is added to many processed foods, dessert, reduced-fat products, dairy products, soft drinks, juices, and many other beverages. Sugar increases the palatability of food therefore is added to food so that it will taste better and people will buy it. Sugar can come in many different forms in our food products such as cane sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrup, molasses, corn sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and juice concentrates. Look in the ‘ingredients’ section of your food labels for these terms as well avoiding ingredients ending with ‘-ose’.
Try to:
– Avoid sugar sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, sugar sweetened caffeinated beverages.
– Read food labels: review the grams of sugar section as well as the ingredients section for the various forms of sugar.
– Avoid processed foods: stick with fresh foods with minimal ingredients.
– Remember moderation: most all foods can fit into a healthy diet. Limit sugary food and beverages to special occasions!

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