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Dodging Hidden Sugars

Dodging Hidden Sugars

Back in 1969, Americans consumed about 2,400 total calories a day; around 595 of those came from sugar. Today, most North Americans down an astounding 2,900 calories a day and 680 are from sugar. Only a small bit of that sweetness comes from natural food sources like fresh fruit or veggies. On average you’re swallowing 32 teaspoons of added sugars every day. No wonder obesity, diabetes, dementia and depression are on the rise.

There’s a lot of confusion about how much sugar you can safely consume: The American Heart Association says women’s daily sugar intake should be no more than six teaspoons and men’s, no more than nine. We say: Aim for no added sugars or syrups. You’ll get plenty of sweet stuff if you eat nine servings of fruits and veggies daily and stick with 100% whole grains. (Then you can have that good-for-you 1 ounce of 70% dark chocolate every day!)

But added sugars are hiding everywhere. Some culprits are: cereals with the words Crunch, Clusters, or Crisp (even if they’re 100% whole grain); bottled salad dressings (particularly low-fat or fat-free); prepared pasta sauces, fruity yogurts, and many condiments. On ingredient labels sugar masquerades as syrup, agave, evaporated cane juice, fructose, sorbitol and any word ending in -ose or -ol.

Fortunately, the FDA is trying to make keeping track of your sugar intake easier with their proposed labeling changes -- let’s hope the food industry cares enough about your health to not kill those label upgrades! 

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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