How Much Added Sugar Do You Consume?

Foods with Added Sugar

For the first time, guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are recommending that men and women should limit consumption of added sugars to less than 10% of their daily caloric intake. Previously, the HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans had only suggested that consumers cut back on added sugars and no daily limits were established for the percentage of total calories. The 2015 to 2020 dietary guideline still falls short of the scientific statements issued by the American Heart Association (AHA), which limit daily caloric consumption of added sugars to about 5%.

Isn't sugar just sugar? Despite what food manufacturers would have you believe, naturally occurring sugar only come from unprocessed (real) foods. The most common natural sugar is fructose, which comes from fruits, but milk, vegetables and some grains are also healthy sources. It is true that both natural sugars and added sugars form simple carbohydrates. But, sugar from real foods also contains complex carbohydrates that retain important nutrients, such as dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function correctly. Because adding sugar to processed foods is such a common practice, most people never realize how much sugar they actually eat.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, sweetness has an almost universal appeal since it makes most foods more appetizing. But, sugar is also added during food processing for other reasons, including:

  • Boosts fermentation to help bread rise
  • Balances acidity in foods containing vinegar or tomatoes
  • Adds flavor, texture and color to baked goods
  • Helps to preserve foods like jellies and jams
  • Works as a bulking agent in ice cream and baked goods

The average American consumes an extra 350 calories a day from roughly 22 teaspoons of added sugar. So, for those trying to lose weight, managing their daily sugar intake can be crucial to healthy weight loss. Just make certain you're aware of all the added sugars in your diet. After all, there is zero nutritional benefit to be gained from eating added sugar.


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