And it’s the largest contributor to the obesity epidemic.
Hello everybody! I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with the last days of summer. I can’t believe we’re already in back-to-school mode, and that fall is quickly approaching. Not that I mind too much – fall is my favorite season after all. I can’t wait to begin sharing fall-themed things with you!
In the meantime, I thought it was important to shed some light on a topic that has been getting a lot of press in general. And to be honest, I’m glad this topic’s getting as much press as it is because it’s something that many weren’t paying attention to before.
Added sugar. Yes, today we’re talking about added sugar specifically, ie: the stuff that food manufacturers add to their products. Natural sugars are something very different. They occur naturally in foods and are not added for flavor or to give body to soft drinks. Fruit is a great example. Fructose, or fruit sugar, is found naturally in an apple or a peach, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid fruit because it contains fructose.
Today’s discussion is mostly going to be focused on added sugars and how food manufacturers sneak them into processed foods. It’s important for you to be able to recognize these added sugars so you can avoid them. As it stands, I would back the theory that added sugar is this country’s leading cause of obesity, and as a result it is something you should strive to avoid.
Where do you find all this added sugar?
- Processed foods (cereal, flavored yogurts, etc.)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, juices, sweetened coffee drinks, etc.)
- Pastries, cookies, cakes, candies, things you normally think of when you hear sugar
Not exactly what you were thinking right? Who would’ve thought flavored yogurts, cereals, and even many granola bars would contain a slew of added sugar? And that’s because food manufacturers are deceptive. An average American will end up consuming approximately 23 teaspoons of added sugar each day, which far exceeds the recommendations. Chew on that: 23 teaspoons of added sugar each day which tends to equate to an additional 385 calories! Based on this, I’m sure you can see wherein our obesity problem lies.
How much added sugar should you have each day at most?
- Women – 6 teaspoons (24 grams) per day
- Men – 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day
To put it in perspective: your average can of soda contains a whopping 15 teaspoons of sugar. That’s about twice as much as what the average person should be consuming each day!
How do you recognize this added sugar on a nutrition facts panel?
Food manufacturers are sneaky, and sugar has so many different names it’s no wonder it causes so many problems with weight gain. And on top of that, on the nutrition facts panel itself there is no real differentiation between added sugar and the sugar naturally occurring in a food. On a positive note, there is current legislation being worked on to have the labels reflect this. For now, however, we’re going to have to learn to recognize added sugar based on the ingredients lists. The best piece of advice: avoid products that contain sugar as the first or second ingredient on the list.
Here are some of the codenames for sugar. If you see them (especially as the first or second ingredient) steer clear!
As just a side note, many of you will see recognizable ingredients on here like molasses, honey, and syrup. These things are still sugar, and your body doesn’t recognize the difference between molasses and high-fructose corn syrup – it’s all sugar and it’s all metabolized the same way.
Do you recognize some of those words on the label below?
- Added sugar is mainly found in processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages so try to minimize your consumption of these items as much as possible
- Try to have at most 6 teaspoons (24 grams) and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar each day for women and men respectively
- Pay attention to ingredients lists and look for the sneaky names for sugar, paying special attention to whether or not they’re the first or second ingredient on the list
Hopefully this little guide to added sugar helps you reduce the amount you may be consuming without even realizing it! It’s becoming a serious problem here in the US and in other parts of the world, and I’m glad more recognition is being drawn to it. It’s definitely needed!
Have a great week everyone, and make some healthy choices ❤
Image Credit: Image 1 (www.rodalewellness.com); Image 2 (www.fda.org); Image 3 (tobyamidornutrition.com); Image 4 (dchealthybites.com); Image 5 (listosaur.com)