Like you, I hope, I am working on eating intelligently. That means cutting back on the junk foods and nutrients that might taste great, but carry lots of empty calories or other elements that mess up my system in one way or another.
Here is Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter on that great bugaboo – sugar.
In addition to those white crystals in your sugar bowl, added sugars come in many forms, including corn syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, agave syrup, fruit juice concentrates, and evaporated cane juice. Most forms of sugars are chemically similar, so switching from one kind of sugar to another won’t make a huge difference in terms of your health. The key is to cut back on sweet treats in general. It’s estimated that 75 percent of packaged foods sold in the U.S. contain added sugars. If you see a sweetener listed as one of the first three ingredients in a packaged food, it likely contains a significant amount of added sugar.
Nearly half of added sugars that people consume are in the form of sugar sweetened beverages, especially soft drinks, but also fruit drinks, coffee, tea, and sports and energy drinks. Other major sources of added sugars include sweets and snacks such as candy, ice cream, cookies, granola bars, flavored yogurts, cake, and doughnuts. People also get a significant amount of added sugars from less obvious sources, such as pasta sauces, salad dressings, ketchup, barbecue sauces, breakfast cereals, breads, baked beans, and many other packaged foods.
Spotting Added Sugars in Packaged Foods
The American Heart Association recommends woman and children limit intake of added sugars to 6 teaspoons or less a day, and men aim for less than 9 teaspoons. But food labels list sugar in grams! To figure out roughly how many teaspoons of sugar are in a packaged food, divide the number of grams by 4.
Added sugars go by many names on package labels, but the body metabolizes them all in essentially the same way. Check ingredient lists for:
- Sugar (white granulated sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, raw sugar, sugar cane juice)
- Other common names for sugars: (cane juice, caramel, corn sweetener, fruit juice/fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses
- Nectar (agave nectar, peach nectar, fruit nectar)
- Syrup (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, carob syrup, maple syrup, malt syrup)
- Words ending in “-ose” (including sucrose, dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose, galactose, saccharose, or mannose)
- Foreign or unusual names for sugars (demerara, muscovado, panela/raspadora, panocha/penuche, sweet sorghum, treacle)