Sugars in your diet can be naturally occurring or added. Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose and glucose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing or at the table.
Foods Containing Added Sugars
The major sources of added sugars are sugary beverages (regular soft drinks, sweetened tea and coffee, energy drinks and fruit drinks), candy, desserts and sweet snacks (cakes, cookies, pies). Smaller amounts come from dairy desserts and milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk), breakfast cereals and bars and other items.
Too Much Sugar Isn't So Sweet for Your Health
Many people consume more sugar than they realize. It’s important to be aware of how much sugar you consume because our bodies don’t need sugar to function properly. Added sugars contribute zero nutrients but many added calories that can lead to extra pounds or even obesity. That can reduce heart health.
If you think of your daily calorie needs as a budget, you want to “spend” most of your calories on “essentials” to meet your nutrient needs. Use only leftover, discretionary calories for “extras” that provide little or no nutritional benefit, such as sugar.
The Ingredient with Many Different Names
To figure out if a packaged food contains added sugars, and how much, check the Nutrition Facts panel. There you will see “added sugars” underneath the line for “total sugars.”
There are four calories in one gram, so if a product has 15 grams of sugar per serving, that’s 60 calories just from the sugar alone, not counting the other ingredients.
If there is no Nutrition Facts panel, look at the list of ingredients. Sugar has many other names. Besides those ending in “ose,” such as maltose or sucrose, other names for sugar include high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, honey or fruit juice concentrates. Learn more about reading food labels.
Limit your consumption of foods with high amounts of added sugars, such as sugary beverages. Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, or 160 calories – and zero nutrition.
What is the Added Sugar Recommended Limit Per Day?
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 6 percent of calories each day. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons. The AHA recommendations focus on all added sugars, without singling out any particular types such as high-fructose corn syrup.