The Truth About Added Sugar

Have you ever thought about how much added sugar you may be eating? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adults eat about 17 teaspoons of added sugars daily!

It is recommended that women have no more than six teaspoons, and men no more than nine teaspoons of added sugar daily. For perspective, one 12-ounce can of soda contains about eight teaspoons of sugar. The less added sugar you ultimately ingest, the healthier you will be.

Many foods are high in added sugars that you may not know about, including tomato sauce, peanut butter, gluten-free processed foods, granola, barbeque sauce and yogurt. More well-known foods that have high amounts of added sugars are soda, fruit juice, sweet tea, cakes, cookies and candies. The list goes on and on as processed foods in the grocery store greatly outnumber whole foods by a considerable amount. The more added sugars, the more calories you will ultimately consume as well. 

A diet high in added sugar is associated with the following health risks:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Fatty liver disease

Added sugar can be disguised in other forms such as: syrups, dextrose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, barley malt, molasses, honey and agave nectar. 

Here are some ways to reduce added sugars:

  • Eat more whole foods
  • Drink water and unsweetened teas
  • Always read nutrition labels and ingredient lists
  • Rethink your recipes

Keep in mind, the natural sugars found in foods like whole fruits and dairy products do not have the negative effects we see in foods with added sugars. A whole apple is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. A whole food diet is high in fiber, which helps to slow the absorption of glucose and reduces spikes in blood sugar and insulin.   

Bridgette Hamby, R.D.N., is the community nutrition educator in the Tevis Center for Wellness at Carroll Hospital.

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