Added sugar provides “empty” calories with no nutritional value. Eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain and various diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease.
It’s important to make the distinction between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables – these are healthy foods that contain water, fiber and various micronutrients. Naturally occurring sugars are absolutely fine, but the same does not apply to added sugar. There is absolutely no nutritional need or benefit that comes from eating added sugar.
According to American Heart Association guidelines, most men should consume no more than 150 calories of added sugar per day. This is equivalent to 38 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar. Women should have no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day. This is around 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar.
Determining how to avoid unnecessary added sugar can be tricky because added sugar has many different names on nutrition labels. Here are some of the other terms for added sugar:
- anhydrous dextrose
- brown sugar
- cane sugar
- corn syrup
- crystal dextrose
- high-fructose corn syrup
- malt syrup
As you make choices about the food you are going to buy, a good rule of thumb is to limit foods that have a form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among its top three ingredients. Try to eat less processed foods and nourish your body with a heavily plant based diet.