With all of the buzz over the possible relabeling of high fructose corn syrup to corn sugar, it’s a good time to look at the amount of overall added sugar in your diet. For females, this is roughly 100 calories or 25 grams. For men, this is roughly 150 calories or 37 grams.
Added sugar in your diet, whether it be from corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, beet sugar, etc., adds empty calories as compared to natural sugar found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products which comes coupled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other good for you nutrients.
Too many calories in your diet can lead to weight gain, so it is best to focus on getting calories from nutrient rich foods. In addition, research suggests increased intake of added sugar can increase your risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your discretionary calories (calories you can eat each day that are not from nutrient rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, and dairy) come from added sugar. For females, this is roughly 100 calories or 25 grams. For men, this is roughly 150 calories or 37 grams.
To put these gram numbers in context, think of this in terms of number of sugar packets. On average, one sugar packet has 3.5 grams of sugar. When you do the math, this means that women should stick to 7 sugar packets or less per day and men less than 11 per day.
Follow these tips to reduce overall added sugar in your diet.
1. Check how much added sugar is in your drinks.
Regularly drinking soda and other sweetened beverages can eat up your daily added sugar allotment very quickly. A 12 oz can of cola has roughly 40 grams of added sugar or 11 sugar packets. A 16 oz bottle of sweetened tea has roughly 46 grams of sugar or 13 sugar packets. A 20 oz bottle of lemon-lime soda has roughly 65 grams of sugar or 19 sugar packets.
Make water your go-to drink. Unsweetened brewed iced tea is another good choice. Need a little sweetness? Add a sugar packet or two (3.5-7 grams) and count them as part of your daily limit.
2. Remove added sugar from unexpected places.
Removed added sugar from the food items where you wouldn’t expect it. Chips, crackers, bread, rolls, and meat products may contain added sugar, which adds up throughout the day.
To see the added sugar content of your favorite foods, go to your ShopWell profile and click the Added Sugar button in the Things You Don’t Want section and save. Now, browse by category, and look for products with an X. Or use the Hide feature in the top right corner to hide all the products with Added Sugar and choose from foods that remain.
3. Browse your milk and cereal.
Dairy products contain natural sugars, but often contain added sugars. For example a 6 oz container of plain yogurt has about 11 grams of natural sugar in it. A 6 oz container of sweetened yogurt contains roughly 23 grams of total sugar or 12 grams of Added Sugar. Better to buy the plain version and sweeten with a tablespoon of all fruit jam (roughly 7 grams of sugar) or a handful of frozen berries.
Cereal is also a great place to cut Added Sugar. One packet of sweetened oatmeal contains 12 grams of sugar, same with 1 cup of frosted wheat biscuits. The unsweetened varieties contain 0 grams of sugar. Choose the unsweetened varieties and add fresh fruit, a packet or two of sugar, or even a teaspoon of honey (roughly 5 grams of sugar).
4. Review your pantry staples for added sugars.
Often times the items you buy each week can use a tune-up. Go to ShopWell and use the search bar to search for your favorite foods or click through the items you already have in your ShopWell list to see if they contain Added Sugars.
Look at the nutrition facts panel to see the amount of sugar in it. Then mouse over the Added Sugar term in the Bad List and see the red highlighting darken on the added sugar ingredient lists. Use the Other Products You Might Like feature to find higher scoring products that will most likely contain less Added Sugar. Finally, create a new list of items low in added sugar to shop with from now on.
By following these simple steps, you can find quick and easy ways to remove hidden added sugars in your diet and save your discretionary calories to spend on your favorite sweet treats– in moderation of course.