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How Much Sugar is too Much?

Most Americans would agree that sugar is quite tasty especially when it sweetens our favorite treats like soda, desserts, fruits and much more. There’s a good chance that you’re consuming more sugar than you should on a daily basis. The sweet stuff hides in everything from the sauce you put on your pasta to the (seemingly healthy) almond milk you pour on your breakfast cereal. That’s not even counting all the places we know it’s lurking — like soda and ice cream. Yes, it tastes delicious by design, but consuming too much sugar has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including obesity, an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Types of Sugar

  1. Free Sugars Sugar added to food and drink, as well as sugar found naturally in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

  2. Naturally Occurring Sugars Found in fruit and milk.

How Much Sugar Should You be Consuming?

The majority of Americans can attribute a whopping 16 percent of their daily calorie intake to added sugars (think: the stuff found in cookies, not the natural sugars found in fruit), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s way more than the five percent of sugars we should be aiming to consume per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization. Added sugars account on average for almost 270 calories, or more than 13 percent of calories per day in the U.S. population.

Sugar intakes as a percent of calories are particularly high among children, adolescents, and young adults. The major source of added sugars in typical U.S. diets is beverages, which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and flavored waters. Beverages account for almost half (47%) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population .

The other major source of added sugars is snacks and sweets, which includes grain-based desserts such as cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries; dairy desserts such as ice cream, other frozen desserts, and puddings; candies; sugars; jams; syrups; and sweet toppings. Together, these food categories make up more than 75 percent of intake of all added sugars.

What You Should Do

Try shifting to reduce added sugars consumption to less than 10 percent of calories per day. Individuals have many potential options for reducing the intake of added sugars. Strategies include choosing beverages with no added sugars, such as water, in place of sugar-sweetened beverages, reducing portions of sugar-sweetened beverages, drinking these beverages less often, and selecting beverages low in added sugars. Low-fat or fat-free milk or 100% fruit or vegetable juice also can be consumed within recommended amounts in place of sugar-sweetened beverages. Additional strategies include limiting or decreasing portion size of grain-based and dairy desserts and sweet snacks and choosing unsweetened or no-sugar-added versions of canned fruit, fruit sauces (e.g., applesauce), and yogurt.

Sugar tastes great but too much can really be detrimental to your health!


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