The Real Scoop on Sugar


Sugar has been in the news a lot lately, but the story has been anything but sweet...

By Marlene Koch, RD for

Sugar has been in the news a lot lately, but the story has been anything but sweet (especially for sweet-lovers like me!). From the alarming "toxic" truth about sugar relayed to Dr. Sanjay Gupta during a recent interview with researcher and pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig on 60 Minutes, to the American Heart Association's recommendation that we curb our current added sugar intake by a whopping 70%.

It seems everyone is turning sour on sugar.

Why? As it turns out, in addition to its long standing reputation for providing empty calories and promoting tooth decay, there is compelling evidence that eating too much sugar can also increase the risk for obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol issues, and heart disease.

While I think it's important to say among the hype that sugar is not evil, nor is it harmful when consumed in small amounts, the fact is most of us are eating too much. Amercians now consume over 130 pounds of sugar a year or an average of 30 teaspoons of added sugars a day.

Related: 5 Foods that Can Flatten Your Belly

In contrast, the American Heart Association recommends that added sugars (this includes any sugar that is "added" to food, but exempts natural sugars such as those found in fruit, dairy products and vegetables) add up to less than 100 calories a day for women, and 150 calories for men-or the equivalent of no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons a day respectively.

(To keep their allotted calories nutrient rich, experts advise children eat even less). To put that into perspective, a single can of regular soda has 10 to 12 teaspoons a sugar, a large muffin can pack in as many as 12 teaspoons, and a piece of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting can have as much as 2 days' worth of added sugars!

With numbers like these, it's easy to see just how easy it is to eat too much sugar.

The great news I have for you is that with just a handful of simple swaps-and a few sweet recipes!-you can slash sugar and the undesirable effects that come with it-and still enjoy the sweet taste you love.

5 Sugar Slashing Tips

  • Think before you drink. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and juice by adding just a splash of juice to carbonated water for a refreshing drink. Make your own smoothies with whole fruit and light juices instead of buying smoothies that are often sky-high in sugar.

Related: Juice Diets: How They Work & Word of Caution

  • Instead of sugary desserts enjoy naturally sweetened whole fruit instead.
  • Keep an eye out for sugar-laced condiments. Salad dressings often contain a lot of sugar, especially those that are reduced in fat. Ketchup contains one teaspoon of added sugar per tablespoon and barbeque sauce has 3 teaspoons per 2 tablespoons. So use reduced-sugar brands and drizzle and dip rather than dunk and drown!
  • Become a label sleuth. It may surprise you, but a half cup of jarred pasta sauce can have as many as 3 of teaspoons of added sugar. Read labels and compare.
  • Lighten the load of added sugar in sweet treats by reducing the amount of sugar by up to 1/3 in baked recipes, using reduced sugar versions of jams, sauces and syrups, or using sugar substitutes to curb your cravings. Today there are more options than ever to having your cake and being healthy too.

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.