There are two types of sugars found in the foods and beverages we consume each day--natural occurring sugars and added sugars. Examples of naturally occurring sugars include fructose in fruit and lactose in milk. Added sugars are any sugars or caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages during processing or preparation, such as the sugar found in soda or the sugar you put in your coffee.
Added sugars can make your food tasty, but they add unnecessary calories to your daily intake with no nutritional benefit. We worry less about naturally occurring sugars in foods because our bodies tend to handle these sugars better, plus these foods have additional nutritional benefits not found in processed foods. According to Harvard, "Since your body digests these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to your cells. A high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers."
The CDC estimates that adult men consume 19 tsp of added sugars, while adult women consume 15 tsp of added sugars each day. The American Heart Association suggests that women consume no more than 100 calories (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams) and men no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) of added sugar per day. Because sugar is not necessary for our nutrition, though, it is best to eliminate as much added sugar as possible.
The best way to really know how much added sugar you consume on average is to track your intake for one week. Use the download below to help give you direction. You may be surprised at how much added sugar sneaks into your daily intake, yet you may be even more surprised to notice how your body feels when you consume added sugars.
In upcoming articles we will talk more about how to read labels, how to crowd out added sugars and how to heal your body from sugar dependency.
~Nicole Hutchison, PT, CSCS, Holistic Health & Integrative Nutrition Coach