Let’s face it: Americans eat too much sugar. We consume 355 calories—or 22 teaspoons—of added sugars a day, says a recent study. Added sugars are those added to food by consumers or manufacturers. “Reducing added sugars will reduce cardiovascular disease risk,” says Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Heart Association (AHA) writing group for the AHA scientific statement on sugars and cardiovascular disease and EatingWell nutrition advisor. “High intakes of added sugars are linked with increased risks for high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels, risk factors for heart disease.”
The AHA recommends that women limit their added sugars to no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons, and men should eat less than 150 calories, approximately 9 teaspoons. (A 12-ounce can of cola has about 8 teaspoons.)
These recommendations apply only to added sugars, which supply calories but no nutritional value, and not to sugars that occur naturally in healthful foods (fructose in fruit, lactose in dairy). It’s fairly easy to keep track of sugars you add yourself. Added sugars in processed foods are more difficult to track. “Sugars” on Nutrition Facts panels include natural and added sugars. Check the ingredient list for sugar and all its aliases: corn sweetener or syrup, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and syrup and sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose). In general, the closer sugars are to the top of the list, the more the food contains.
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