The American Heart Association recommends no more then 6 TEASPOONS (25 grams or 100 calories) of added sugar per day for women, and 9 TEASPOONS (38 grams or 150 calories) per day for men. To put things into perspective…
1 Tablespoon Ketchup = 3.7 grams Sugar
1 Quaker Chewy Bar = 7 grams Sugar
1 Cup apple juice = 24 grams Sugar
1 Serving Yoplait Fruit, Nonfat Yogurt = 47 grams Sugar
With the new Nutrition Facts label, there is now a column for “Added Sugar”. This is great information to have and it tells us how many grams of calorie containing sweeteners/added sugars have been added. Consuming added sugars in excess can cause weight gain and obesity because they do not contain nutrients and are a form of empty calories. In large amounts, these sweeteners rapidly increase blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and triglycerides. When these levels are elevated, your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses increases.
Artificial sweeteners, aka non-nutritive sweeteners, are another type of sweetener that can be added to food products and are widely known for being added to diet beverages. They are low and even no calorie sweeteners such as Nutrasweet, Sweet One, Sweet’N Low, and Splenda. In their chemical forms they are Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin, and Sucralose. This type of sweetener also provides no nutrient benefits for the body. Studies show that daily consumption of artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet drinks, are associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes (Gardener, et al., 2019).
Artificially sweetened beverages can be used among consumers to decrease calories but use of these beverages should be limited-time and as an in-between while transitioning to drinking water only.
Real Sugar/Natural Sugar
Not all sugar is bad. Naturally occurring sugars in food such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) provide important nutrients. Whole fruits contain antioxidants and fiber, which helps you feel full for longer and provide metabolic benefits. The natural sugars combined with the other nutrients in these foods are digested more slowly than the added sugars which helps stabilize blood glucose levels. When given the option, always choose whole fruit over dried fruit or fruit juice.
As always, we recommend a balance of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. However, there is room for the occasional Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper in moderation. Living a healthy lifestyle is about variety, moderation and making choices for YOU and your health!
Studies and Pictures Cited:
- Gardener, H., & Elkind, M. S. (2019). Artificial Sweeteners, Real Risks. Stroke,50(3), 549-551. doi:10.1161/strokeaha.119.024456
- Strawbridge, H. (2018, January 08). Artificial sweeteners: Sugar-free, but at what cost? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030
- Photo by Mikael Stenberg on Unsplash