The Sneaky Side of Sugar
It’s easy to know you’re eating sugar when you bite into a donut or candy bar, but there are less noticeable sugars that are wreaking havoc on your health.
Some sugar occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk and grains. The culprit in undermining a healthy diet is “added sugar”—the kind added to food during processing, as well as the obvious sweet stuff spooned into your coffee or onto your grapefruit. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to half of your discretionary calories, or no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That's about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men.
To put that into perspective, a typical 12-ounce can of regular soda has 130 calories and 8 teaspoons of sugar. But sugar sneaks into seemingly “better for you” beverages as well, like sports drinks and sugary fruit drinks. It’s no surprise that sugar-sweetened drinks are the biggest source of added sugar in American diets. But sugar is also added to everything from soup to nuts. Check the labels of some of the products in your cupboard and fridge. “Syrup” means added sugar as well as most ingredients ending with the letters “ose” like fructose and dextrose.
Sugar has calories, but no other nutritional value. Eating and drinking a lot of added sugar is one probable cause of rising obesity rates in the United States. It is also linked to increased risks for high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels and inflammation in the body—all very bad things your heart and health in general.
Article copyright © 2011 American Heart Association. This article is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.