Shared by Maryann from Balanced Nutrition
Article courtesy of: Uma Naidoo, MD, from Harvard Health Blog
Increasingly, people are aware of the dangers of “too much sugar” in the diet. Consuming excess sugar can lead to a condition called metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat. Excess sugar also contributes to widespread inflammation and even leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Excess sugar intake can be bad for your brain, too. Studies have found that high sugar intake has a negative effect on cognition, and it has also been implicated in hyperactivity and inattention in children and adolescents.
But what does “too much sugar” look like? On the one hand, we have the well-known “problem foods” like sugar-sweetened sodas, candy, and baked treats. On the other hand, we have the naturally occurring sugars in some whole foods (like plain yogurt, milk, or fruit) that are part of a healthy diet.
Between those lurk the less well known hidden sugars that are so common in the average person’s diet.
Sugar’s hiding placesYou might be surprised where added and hidden sugars can be found in the foods we eat every day. For example, a tablespoon of one popular brand of tomato ketchup has 4 grams of sugar, and most people add about 3 tablespoons of ketchup to their burgers. That 12 grams of sugar from the ketchup alone is more sugar than you’d find in a serving of two store-bought chocolate chip cookies, which contains only 9 grams of sugar! And a store-bought vegetable juice would seem like a healthy choice at only 60 calories in a single 1-cup (8 ounce) serving — but that single serving size still contains 11 grams of natural sugar, even though the label doesn’t list any added sugar.
A data review completed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) noted that American adults consume 13.4% of their calories from hidden sugars, and in children, this figure is a whopping 17%. The main sources of the hidden sugars in the typical U.S. diet were snacks and sweets (31%), added sugars in beverages (47%), and soda (25%). Of course, few people would be surprised that soda is high in sugar.
What the experts say about hidden sugar: Until now, we clinicians have given dietary advice based on the recently revised MyPlate, which simply reminds us to select foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, without going into much detail. However, a recent article in JAMA has summarized all the current guidelines for sugar intake (I’ve listed them in the table below). These recommendations offer specific advice on sugar consumption and, unlike prior guidelines, they address added and hidden sugars in food — a welcome and important change.
US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services (2015-2020)
Limit consumption of added sugars to <10% of calories per day
World Health Organization (March 2015)
Restrict added sugar consumption to <10% of daily calories
American Heart Association (2009)
Limit added sugars to 5% of daily calories (for women, 100 calories/day; for men, 150 calories/day)
Pay attention to these hidden sources of sugarConsider these common “sugar traps.”
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Certified Holistic Nutrition and Wellbeing Counselor