The Nutrition Around Sugar Explained and How Much We Should Be Having
Kinda funny that I’m sitting here writing up this blog post as I’m staring at a Coca-Cola machine in the waiting “lounge” of the Chevrolet dealership. Waiting to get my oil changed and trying to catch up on some things on my to-do list, and watching various people come by and snag quick sugary snacks and drinks. Oooooo, if they only knew the harm…
The World Health Organization recommends a sugar intake of no more than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons per day! This doesn’t include sugar naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables, and milk. However it does include natural added sugars like honey and maple syrup.
Just as a reference…
There’s 64 grams of sugar in a 20 oz bottle of Dr. Pepper. That’s nearly 2.5 times the recommended daily allowance.
The consumption of excessive sugar, including fructose from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), has been shown to potentially lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome… All things we really, REALLY want to avoid. And while I’m a fan of sugary treats (specifically ice cream, if you know General Wellness well), trying to stay below the recommended daily allowance of sugar each day is a healthy goal to shoot for. Lucky for us, HFCS and added sugars CAN be avoidable with what we eat. HFCS is found in a lot of foods in the American diet, specifically sodas, packaged sweet treats, and candy, some canned fruit, and even some salad dressings (shocking, I know). Of all of these, soda is the main way that added sugar and HFCS can sneak up on you. I recommend completely avoiding sodas to my clients. But when that is a habit that’s hard to kick, I suggest first switching to a diet soda or sparkling water to give you the bubbles without the sugar content. For the other sneaky added sugar products, be sure to check your ingredient labels. Look for food items that are low in sugar or canned fruit that is packaged in its natural juice with no added syrup instead. My motto - why waste your sugar grams per day on foods that don’t even need sugar anyway? Save your sugar grams for the good stuff, people. Let’s be aware and cautious of what we are choosing to consume!
Let’s talk fruit:
But as mentioned above, not all sugar is created equal. Well specifically, not all fructose is created equal! Fruits are very high in fructose, but they do not cause the disease risks like the isolated high fructose corn syrup and other “free sugars” added into food products do. The sugar from these natural foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber, & antioxidants that when consumed as a whole food can be beneficial to the body regardless of the natural sugar content. Therefore, fruit can be considered a great snack or dessert option when a sweet treat is desired. Don’t let anyone tell you bananas are bad - eat up!
Seasonal summer fruits include berries, apricots, peaches, plums, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, figs, mango and many more! Stock up on these fruits this season. You can add them to water or sparkling water to avoid the sugars found in sodas!