Sugar! It’s seemingly everywhere and in everything – FACT – there is enough hidden sugar in an everyday “healthy” diet to meet or exceed the recommendations of the American Heart Association. Things we know have sugar in them like desserts, sodas and candy are what send us into the excess sugar “red zone”.
Most of the time I see myself as a fit and health savvy kind of guy. I am not by any means an extreme “health nut”, but I try to pay attention.
I have hobbies that keep me physically active and my kids (10 and 14) are both avid soccer players. So I feel we as a family are “fit” and overall healthy. With our lifestyle, comes a consciousness of a healthy diet. We minimize fast food, fried food and obvious deserts, but generally, I do not watch what we eat at the ingredient level.
Yesterday, I pulled base “sugar” research for this article. This morning, I woke up at 6am and went through the routine morning of a single Dad with two kids – but with a new elementary level of “sugar enlightenment”.
The morning went something like this:
Phone alarm goes off at 6, grab phone, look at weather – rain again??? Sheesh…
Brief bathroom business, then straight to coffee maker – brew and a pour cup of coffee – add one teaspoon of brown sugar and a little milk (dairy contains natural sugar). I love my coffee.
Next was making the kids lunches for school – 10yr old boy’s first: – A ham and cheese sandwich, baked goldfish, apple, sliced bell peppers, water – I feel it is simple and healthy.
1) Ham and cheese sandwich:
- Baird’s whole wheat white bread – (glance at ingredients) contains sugar.
- Boars Head premium smoked ham – (glance at ingredients) contains sugar, contains dextrose.
- Sargenta sliced gouda cheese (dairy contains natural sugar)
2) Goldfish “baked” – (glance at ingredients) contains sugar, contains huito juice concentrate, contains watermelon juice concentrate.
3) Half of a cored apple – raw, organic, fuji (contains natural sugar)
4) Sliced bell peppers – raw, organic (contains natural sugar)
5) Ozarka water (8oz bottle)
So wait – I have not even made it into my day 30 minutes and have already encountered sugar as an ingredient on 11 occasions? Hmmmm…
I will spare you the rest of the routine morning as I think you get my point. Which is – the average American consumes 80 grams, about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day – and a lot of times we don’t even know it or think about it.
Recommended Daily Sugar Intake
And yes, natural sugar – is sugar. Most of the time, we can get our daily limit ONLY by natural sugars (fruits, veggies, dairy, etc.) – which is why something like a single 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, the best-selling soda in the world, (which contains 65 grams) is so dangerous.
Daily Sugar Recommendations (American Heart Association)
- 4-6 yrs. old – less than 19 grams per day (5 teaspoons)
- 7-10 yrs. old – less than 24 grams per day (6 teaspoons)
- 11+ – adults – less than 30-40 grams per day (7-9 teaspoons)
The human body is not designed to process levels of sugar we as Americans are putting in it – and it is evident by the huge amount of research linking sugar to obesity and disease.
Excess sweetener consumption directly contributes to the development of wide spread obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is expected to account for the majority of liver transplant requests in the U.S. We will go more into the biology and science in future articles on this blog .
Sugar-sweetened beverages, along with cakes, cookies, and ice cream, are of course the major offenders, but hidden sources of added sugars are a legitimate concern. “What happens is that Americans are having dessert several times a day and don’t know it,” says Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician who sits on the board of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition.
So, How do I start limiting the sugar in my families diet? For me, consciousness and awareness seems to be a good start: If I can learn to identify sugar in the ingredients of everyday items, I can at least keep a mental “tab” and make better choices.
It then makes it very easy to say “NO” to ice cream, candy bars and sodas that contain excess amounts of sugar – especially knowing that one serving exceeds the amount of recommended sugar per day for an adult.
First, anything with the name sugar after it – is sugar (beet sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, etc.)
After that it gets a little more complex and deceiving:
- Agave nectar
- Barley malt
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown rice syrup
- Buttered syrup
- Cane juice crystals
- Caramel carob syrup
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Crystalline fructose
- Diastatic malt
- Ethyl maltol
- Evaporated cane juice
- Florida crystals
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentarate
- Glucose solids
- Golden syrup
- High fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Mape syrup
- Muscovado shuar
- Organic raw sugar
- Raw sugar
- Refiners syrup
- Rice syrup
- Sorghum syrup
Again, sugar is not bad – BUT – We get enough sugar in an everyday diet to meet or exceed the recommendations of the American Heart Association – whether we are conscious of it or not. Desserts, sodas and candy are what send us into the excess sugar “red zone” – which is OK every once in a while. But make a habit of too much excess sugar and your body and health will eventually pay the consequences – it is just a matter of time.