Bittersweet news on sugar (2)

Too much added sugar contributes to heart disease, cancer and inflammation.

How did I not know this!!!

Up until yesterday, I thought the bad rap on sugar focused on diabetes and tooth decay.

The question, of course, is how we stay healthy without driving ourselves mad with anxiety and sweet deprivation. And if we are trying to moderate, how do we keep a general tally of the sugar grams in a day.

The issue isn’t the naturally occurring sugar in fruits, dairy, or even grains. These plant-based foods have sugar along with fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants.  Dairy has lactose, which is also sugar, accompanied by protein and calcium.  All good. Energy from fruit, dairy, and whole grains seeps into cells slowly (like a time release tablet).

It’s the sugar that manufacturers add to food that’s problematic. In processed food, sugar improves taste and works as a preservative. It provides energy in big rush. It also provides our bodies with lots of calories and no nutritional value. Soda, fruit, juice, sweetened yogurts and cereals account for most of the added sugar consumption. Syrups and sweets, frozen treats, and baked goods are also on the list of processed foods full of added sugar.

New FDA package labels for added sugars

LET’S TALK ABOUT ADDED SUGARS

Luckily the FDA has recently made it easy to track “added sugars” in food.  In 2020, they put a new category on food labels. (The first time I noticed this change was last week!)

Added sugars include:

  • Sucrose and dextrose,
  • Sugars from syrups, honey and agave,
  • sugars from concentrated fruit and vegetable juices.

Keep those numbers under control, and the healthy eating quotient ratchets up significantly.

How much sugar is suggested? It depends.

None is needed for the body to thrive.

It’s the mind that is affected here. The experts are just trying to estimate how much is too much.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. sugar industry says 50 grams is a good target.  The American Heart Association aims for 25 grams for women and children/ 37 grams for men.

For my part, I have  to watch my consumption of frozen treats like Outside ice pops and Yasso frozen yogurt pops. If that’s the only sugar eaten in a day, it’s not a big deal. But it’s cumulative. What else would be both satisfying and reasonably healthful?

The road to good eating is a rabbit hole.  Answer one question; two more come up.

Have you ever tallied your sugar grams? What did you learn? When did you learn about “added sugars?” (If “added sugar” isn’t on the label you might want to consider throwing out the box or the jar.  It’s probably too old!)

Sources: 

Heart Health: The sweet danger of sugar. Harvard Medical School blog, January 6, 2022.

Added Sugars: Now Listed on the Nutrition Facts Label, U. S FDA

7 comments

  1. I have never tracked sugar grams. I’ll have to check my sweet n salty peanut bars and my belvita crackers for added sugar. I don’t eat much else from a box. I did not know about the “added sugar” on the labels, so thanks. I try to make incremental changes.

    Liked by 1 person

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