Added Sugar in the Diet: Are you Having Just Enough or Too Much?

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Sugar is a carbohydrate which offers calories for the body to use as energy. Sugar which naturally occurs is the sugar contained in whole, unprocessed foods, like some grains, vegetables, and fruits. Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit. Also, lactose is a natural sugar present in milk. Added sugar is added to processed drinks and foods during manufacturing. It is likely that food manufacturers add both processed and natural sugars to processed foods and drinks.

Why the Addition?

Added sugar offers little to zero nutritional value; however, it serves a lot of uses in processing food. For instance, this sugar can:

  • Help in bread and alcohol fermentation.
  • Improve the flavor, texture, or color of foods and drinks.
  • Keep baked goods fresh longer.

Limiting Added Sugar in the Diet

Eating or drinking too much added sugar can result in health issues that include obesity, tooth decay, higher triglyceride levels, heart disease, difficulty controlling type 2 diabetes, and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Also, filling up on foods or drinks with added sugar may prevent the person from consuming healthy options. Milk offers protein, vitamins, and calcium which help the body in functioning well.

How Much is Too Much

The body needs some amount of calories every day for energy. This can be thought of as a daily calorie goal. Every person has different daily calorie goals. For instance, adult athletes must take in more calories than an active kid.

The majority of calories consumed is used for meeting the nutrient needs of the body. But, added sugars in foods and drinks add calories which offer little to no nutritional value. A small amount of these calories in the diet is okay; however, it is likely that the person gains weight if he consumes too much of them. The limits on added calories are based upon the gender and age of a person. For instance, the recommended daily limit for women who are between 31 and 50 years old is not more than 160 added calories every day. This is 10 teaspoons of extra sugar every day. For men of the same age range, the limit is not more than 265 extra calories every day which is around 17 teaspoons of extra sugar daily. These limits are for those who get less than thirty minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

Finding Out the Amount of Extra Sugar in the Food or Drink

The Nutritional Facts Label on the package of foods and drinks informs people of how much added sugar their food or drink has. Food manufacturers don’t need to list sugars that naturally occur and added sugar separately on such label. But, consumers can see the amount of total sugar contained in every serving. Also, Future Pharmacy, an online drug store in Old Bridge New Jersey, emphasizes that there is relevant information in the ingredient list which lists ingredients based on amount.

It is imperative to keep in mind though that the Nutritional Facts Label has listed information which can be confusing to consumers. So if a person reads the amount of sugar in every serving, they need to remember the following.

  • 1 gram of sugar is equivalent to 4 calories
  • 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sugar

Things to Do to Avoid Added Sugar in the Diet

  • Cut out or reduce consumption of dairy desserts, baked goods, and candy.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and go for water instead. A 12-ounce can of regular soda can have at least 8 teaspoons of sugar and over 130 calories.
  • Pick heart-healthy foods for meals and snacks.
  • Don’t consume processed foods. Usually, these are high in added sugar, sodium, or fat.

Different Names But Only Means Sugar

Check the Nutrition Facts Label’s ingredient list on a food or drink package to find the added sugar below.

  • Brown sugar
  • Cane syrup or cane juice
  • Dextrose
  • Corn syrup or corn sweetener
  • Agave syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Honey
  • Granulated white sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Maltose
  • Raw sugar
  • Molasses
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