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Sharp Health News

Keep it sweet: sugar and its alternatives (infographic)

Oct. 7, 2016

The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, averaging three times the recommended allowance. But can you blame us? Many foods hide their sugar status, and studies reveal the addictive cycle that sugar spins. Patti Ennis, program manager of clinical nutrition at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center shares facts, myths and a few tasty alternatives.

Keep it sweet: sugar and its alternatives (infographic). Sugar – how much is too much? Although sugar is linked to health concerns, overconsumption is the true culprit. Learn how limits and alternatives could sweeten your overall well-being. We eat 22 teaspoons of sugar each day. However, our maximum allowance per day is 6 to 9 teaspoons – 6 for women and 9 for men. One regular soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar. These on-the-go favorites seem innocent enough, but they’re also hiding high amounts of sugar: Granola bars have 2 ½ teaspoons per serving (one bar). Yogurt has 3 teaspoons per serving (5 ounces). Raisins have 5 teaspoons per box (1/4 cup). Energy drinks have 5 ½ teaspoons per serving (8 ounces). Iced tea has 9 ½ teaspoons per serving (16 ounces). Blended iced coffee drinks have 10 teaspoons per serving (12 ounces). Ever wonder why you crave sugar? It all starts with that cupcake. You eat sugar, your blood sugar levels spike, sugar cravings start, and your blood sugar levels crash. Break the sugar cycle by making small, simple changes to your diet. Cut a little out each week and fill up on fruits and vegetables instead. Get the skinny on six natural and artificial sugar substitutes. Remember that sugar is sugar, and even the following natural alternatives cause your blood sugar to rise. Stevia, a processed sweetener, is technically artificial, despite being derived from a shrub – so it’s really a food additive. Honey is ideal in drinks and on hot cereals, but shares similar make up to table sugar. Agave nectar is great for teas and coffee, but its extreme sweetness make it tough for baking. Some studies suggest the following artificial sweeteners may leave you craving more sugar, so use them in moderation. Aspartame is found in more than 6,000 products, but loses its sweetness when heated. Sucralose is best for baking, and one packet is as sweet as 2 teaspoons of sugar. Saccharine is best used in beverages, as it reacts differently to baking than sugar does. Although artificial sweeteners are approved by the FDA, it does not mean unlimited consumption is OK, says Patti Ennis, clinical nutrition program manager at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. Incorporating sweeteners in your diet should be used in moderation. Try water or low sugar beverages instead of diet sodas or beverages that contain artificial sweeteners.

View the printable version of this infographic.

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