Sugar: Whatever Will We Do About This Sweet, Sweet Substance?

CalorieLab had a great post about added sugars in U.S. diets.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released guidelines for how much added sugar we should be taking in. They emphasize that eating a lot of added sugars (the kind of sugars slipped into processed foods and sugars we add to foods ourselves) is linked to a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

AHA recommends that adult women should keep added sugar intake within 100 calories/day (6.5 teaspoons) and men within 150 calories/day (9.5 teaspoons). Brown sugar, table sugar, honey, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup and molasses are included in this “added sugar” category.

A key fact about these sugars is that, beyond calories, they don’t provide any nutritional value. In other words, they’re empty calories. In a world where were getting too many calories and too few nutrients, this adds up. Especially with the stat that in the U.S., on average, people consume 22.2 teaspoons of added sugars/day (355 calories).

The post also provides a list of some common processed food items and their added sugar content. These foods have a startlingly high level of sugar. Many foods we don’t even think of as being sweet, such as breads and sauces, are stocked with added sugars.

It’s clear that food processing will need to change to take some of these added sugars out of processed foods, which many of us are eating more than we’re not eating them. It’ll be interesting to see if U.S. palates can gradually tune down enough to accept lower-sugar products as palatable.

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