There are a few tried and true rules when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet: avoid fried, fatty and processed foods, eat plenty of fruit and veggies and take it easy on the sweets. But recently, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has put special emphasis on that last part.
The committee now officially recommends that Americans limit their added sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of daily calories, which equals about 12 teaspoons for most Americans. The average American currently consumes twice that amount of sugar daily, the majority of it coming from soda, juices and other sugary drinks.
Why such a strong stance? Because of sugar's link to obesity and chronic disease.
The not-so-sweet aspects of sugar
Not everything sweet is bad for you. It's important to note the difference between natural sugars and added sugars, which are the true culprit. Natural sugars are found in fruits, vegetables and dairy, and those provide nutritional value and energy your body can use. Added sugars, which are sugars and syrups hidden in sugary drinks, desserts and processed foods, simply add empty calories to your diet. That means they hold no nutritional value and, over time, can create potential health problems.
Here are some potential side effects of consuming too much added sugar:
- Weight gain
- Tooth decay
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Poor nutrition
To monitor your and your family’s sugar intake and get it under control, try these tips.
Learn the different names for sugar. Check nutrition labels for ingredients ending in "ose," which is the chemical name for many types of sugar, such as fructose, glucose, maltose and dextrose. Sugar also goes by these names: cane juice/syrup, corn sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, nectar, honey, malt syrup and molasses.
Read nutrition labels. Ingredients are listed in order of how much of it exists in the product, so if sugar is near the top, it's probably best to pass on it. Even things that don’t seem sweet—like crackers, sauces, condiments and salad dressings—can actually be full of sugar.
Trade sugary drinks for water. That means less soda, blended coffee drinks and any juice that's not 100 percent fruit juice (again, read those nutrition labels).
Be careful about eating cereal. Stay away from sugary, frosted options.
Indulge occasionally! There's nothing wrong with enjoying a sweet treat or dessert every now and then. The main goal is to strip unnecessary added sugars from your daily diet.
Posted: 4/16/2015 by
Filed under: Nutrition, Obesity, Sugar