Even if we think we are relatively healthy eaters, there is a good chance we are consuming far too much sugar from “healthy” foods we typically love to eat. Foods such as cereals, yogurt, drinks, condiments, breads, pasta sauce, energy bars, peanut butter, jelly, and more are loaded with added sugar. You may be shocked to know that we are eating potentially toxic levels of sugar in our diets without even knowing it which can be a driving force behind killers such as heart disease, obesity, stroke, and cancer.
How Much is Too Much?
Over the past 30 years, Americans have steadily consumed more and more added sugars in their diets, which has contributed to the obesity and chronic disease epidemic. We are eating about 22 teaspoons a day, equal to about 150 lbs per year. That is about 2-3 times more than the recommended limits.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance. For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day and no more than 150 calories per day for men (or about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men). Children should consume only 12 grams (3 tsp) per day.
While these are wonderful goals, it’s difficult to obtain when most people’s diet consists of processed, packaged foods.
Other Names for Added Sugar
Don’t be fooled by ingredient labels. Sugar hides behind many different names.
Are Artificial Sweeteners a Better Choice?
Saccharin, Sucralose, and Aspartame often known by the brands Sweet and Low, Equal, Splenda, or NutraSweet are artificial sweeteners mostly used in diet sodas, candy, and processed foods. Some add it to coffee or in baked goods associating lack of calories with health. The truth is, all three are completely artificial, chemical sweeteners made by industry. They have been linked to cancer, digestive issues, migraines, obesity, and more. None of them are real food and should be avoided at all costs.
Should I Ditch Sugar Completely?
While no sugar is without health risks in large quantities, a healthy relationship with sugar can be okay for most people. There is no reason to deprive yourself of a treat every now and again but be mindful of the type of sugar you are consuming. Adding bananas, applesauce, lemons, or pears to baked goods, smoothies, or fresh pressed juices are an easy, nutritious way to add sweetness without using refined ingredients. When needed, chose minimally processed sugars such as coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, raw honey or stevia which can all be delicious additions to a healthy real food life.
Do you struggle with a sweet tooth? If so, how do you handle it?
Until next time, keep it real.