A growing body of scientific evidence points to sugar as a factor in a number of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer.
The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting total daily consumption of added sugars to less than 10 percent of daily calories. That equals roughly 9 to 12 teaspoons of added sugar per day, depending on your body’s caloric needs. The American Heart Association recommends an even lower daily limit.
If you’re looking to, you need to look out for a lot more than just “sugar” on nutrition labels. The sweet stuff goes by up to 60 different names and can be found in almost 75 percent of drinks, snacks and other packaged foods.
Some of the more common synonyms for added sugar are:
- Words ending in “-ose” — dextrose, maltose, sucrose, lactose
- Syrups — corn syrup, maple syrup, carob syrup, rice syrup
- Fruit juice
- Agave nectar
- Ethyl maltol
- Barley malt
Not all sugar is bad, but natural sugars are a better option than chemical compounds. Natural sugars include honey, agave and molasses. Some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharine actually increase your craving for sugar, so use them in moderation.
Tips for avoiding added sugar
Because most processed foods contain added sugar, finding alternatives is an easy way to cut your sugar consumption.
- Instead of diet soda, drink naturally flavored water or brew iced tea and add lemon or mint instead of sugar
- Look for “unsweetened” or “no sugar added” fruit juice, applesauce, yogurt and dairy alternatives
- Eat more lean proteins and healthy fats — eggs, avocados and lean meats — to stay full longer and curb midday cravings
- Bring a homemade lunch to school or work — it takes just a few minutes
Looking for help developing a food plan that works for you? Sharp’s outpatient dietitians can help you find real-world solutions that meet your needs. Learn more about nutrition education and counseling programs around San Diego.