There are two types of dietary sugar:3
- Naturally occurring sugars
- Found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose)
- Added sugars
- This includes any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to beverages or foods during processing or preparation. Added sugars and sweeteners can include natural sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar, and honey. They can also contain chemically manufactured sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup.
Where added sugar is hiding:3
Nutrition facts panels of food doesn’t make it easy to distinguish how much added sugar is in product. The line for “sugars” includes both natural and added sugars. Products that contain milk or fruit will contain some natural sugar (lactose or fructose). Reading the list of ingredients on a processed food’s label can tell you if it contains added sugars, but not the exact amount.
Names for added sugar:2,3
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt sugar
- Raw sugar
- Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
How much is too much:2,3
According to the American Heart Association, men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of added sugar per day, and women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons or 21 grams. For reference a 12oz can of Coke has 44 grams of sugar or 12 teaspoons.
Benefits of Naturally Occurring Sugars:2
Most naturally occurring sugars are found in fruits and vegetables, these plants have high amounts of fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants. The body digests these foods more slowly, so the sugar offers a steady supply of energy to the cells. A high intake of fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
Tips to Decrease Your Added Sugars:1
- Choose water, unsweetened tea or coffee instead of soda or sweetened beverages
- Choose fruit as a naturally sweet dessert or snack instead of foods with added sugars
- Choose packaged foods that have less or no added sugars such as plain yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or frozen fruit with no added sugar or syrup
Blog post by Erin Womboldt.
1. Added Sugars. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/added-sugars
2. Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). The sweet danger of sugar. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar
3. Sugar 101. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/sugar-101