Sugar makes food taste delicious and can make even the worst ingredients taste good. Food manufacturers know this and since sugar is a cheap ingredient they add it to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets (1).
Many of us think that we don’t eat sugar because we don’t eat cake, candy, ice cream or drink soda. But sugar is hidden in many non-suspect foods. Even foods that are promoted as “healthy” or “natural can have a ton of added sugars. That added sugar adds up. Today the average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day. (2) That translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person. (3)
How much should we be eating per day? The World Health Organization's (WHO) recommends that no more than 10% of an adult's calories – and ideally less than 5% – should come from added sugar or from natural sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice. For a 2,000-calorie diet, 5% would be 25 grams or 6 teaspoons.
A good habit to start is to read the ingredients of any packaged food that you regularly eat. Bread, cereal, yogurt, frozen foods, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, soup… To help you find all the hidden sugar in your foods, see the list below of names for sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Avoid or eat less of any foods that have a type of sugar listed in the first five ingredients or any food that has more than 5 grams of sugar per serving.
Artificial sweeteners should always be avoided.
Natural or Naturally Derived Sweeteners
Artificial Sweeteners (brand names in parenthesis)
(1)Ng, S.W., Slining, M.M., & Popkin, B.M. (2012). Use of caloric and noncaloric sweeteners in US consumer packaged foods, 2005-2009. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , 112(11), 1828-1834.e1821-1826.
(2) Ervin, R.B., & Ogden, C.L. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). NCHS Data Brief, No. 122: Consumption of Added Sugars Among U.S. Adults, 2005–2010. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db122.pdf
(3)]United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. (2012). USDA Sugar Supply: Tables 51-53: US Consumption of Caloric Sweeteners. Retrieved from http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/sugar-and-sweeteners-yearbook-tables.aspx
Hello! I'm Jori Zimmerman, a nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Savvy. I work with individuals that are looking to make dietary and lifestyle changes that will lead them to living a healthier and higher quality of life.