Are You Having Too Much Sugar? Here’s How Much You Need

You're probably going overboard without even knowing it.


Dr Chris Mohr |

Studies show that people who eat too much sugar have an increased risk of high blood pressure, poor cholesterol, and elevated levels of inflammation, a root cause of many chronic conditions.

But, HOLD UP, before you start going through your fruit basket and tossing your apples and bananas, hear me out.

Related: 6 Ways Eating Too Much Sugar Messes With Your Body

The natural sugars found in fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose) are not problematic. It’s added sugar: the white, brown, and syrupy stuff that is incorporated into foods during processing.

You’re probably thinking, “Why are natural sugars okay?” Well, for one, it’s pretty hard to eat so much natural sugar that it’s detrimental. There’s only so much fruit and dairy you can put down.

Second, those natural sugars are tucked in foods that are also brimming with good-for-you vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables also contain disease-fighting antioxidants and fibre, that super-important nutrient you’re probably not eating enough of.

Related: Should You Cut Down On Fruit If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

How many grams should you have in a day?

That depends who you ask.

The American Heart Association says men should eat no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar (or 627 kilojoules, or 36 grams) and women should cap their daily amount at 6 teaspoons (that’s also 418 kilojoules or 25 grams). The World Health Organization’s guidelines is slightly more liberal: added sugars should take up less than 10 percent of your daily kilojoules. For an adult that’s about 50 grams or 12 ½ teaspoons. To put all this in perspective, one 330ml can of Pepsi has 41 grams of added sugar.

Confused? Here’s what I tell my clients: Don’t worry about the number. Trying to keep track of your added sugars will make you go nuts. Just cut back. Many nutrition facts panels now include a line specifically for added sugars. Make sure you’re seeking out this information. Then, for maximum benefit, start swapping out products in your diet that are higher in added sugar (like that soda) with a low- to no-sugar alternative (such as flavoured water, for example).

Related: 14 Sugar-Free Treats You Need In Your Desk Drawer For When Those Sugar Cravings Kick In

And despite what you might read out there on the interwebs, all sugar is the same. Yes, sweeteners like maple syrup and honey may deliver slightly more antioxidants than the granulated stuff, and agave is lower on the glycemic index, but they’re all still sugars and our body essentially processes them all the same.

Now, what I’m about to say might surprise you, especially given that I’m a registered dietitian.

Think twice before you stop eating all added sugar. For one, banning an ingredient or food from your diet can backfire and end up making you crave it more. But sugar is also essential in great cooking. It keeps breads and baked goods tender. It marries salty, sour, and acidic flavours. Ditch it entirely and your food won’t taste as great, which means you may be less likely to enjoy meals you make yourself.

And that’s key: Cook a little more often and you’ll naturally curb how much sugar you’re eating. Even if you’re using a little of the white substance in your cooking, it’ll be far less than what you’d likely be consuming from a packaged or restaurant meal.

Originally published on menshealth.com

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