Added Sugars: the Maximum Amount Of Sugar You Should Be Eating Every Day
Stop reading this right now and go to your pantry. I want you to grab any product that has a Nutrition Facts label. After you’ve done that, come back to this article. I’ll be waiting…
Got it? OK. Now, take a look at “added sugars” in the Nutrition Facts. Last year, the FDA required that all food manufacturing companies with sales of over $10 million list “added sugars” in the Nutrition Facts label. Smaller companies had to start complying with the new rule at the beginning of this year.
To make healthier choices for yourself (and your family) I want you to really start paying attention to added sugars on the nutrition facts label. One of the reasons why the FDA wanted “added sugars” added to Nutrition Facts is because there are dozens of nicknames for sugar. Unless an ingredient says “cane sugar” it can be very easy for consumers to overlook added sugars. Dextrose, maltodextrin, molasses, dextrin, agave, evaporated cane juice … These are just a few of the 56 secret sugars food manufacturers use to artificially sweeten food.
As a certified nutritional therapist, I’m glad that added sugars is finally on nutrition labels; it’s long overdue considering the pervasiveness of obesity and diabetes. But there’s a misleading problem with added sugars. Next to the amount of grams of added sugars is listed the percentage of daily value of added sugars.
Percentage of Added Sugars In The Diet Should Be…
And while that may seem like a good thing to know, I consider this very misleading. That’s because if you’re trying to manage weight, blood sugar and inflammation, the percentage of added sugars you should have is ZERO!!!
If you’re eating real food then you’re consuming no added sugars. I understand that we’re only human. So if you want to sweeten your coffee or tea with a packet of low-glycemic coconut sugar, which is an added sugar, I can live with that. But when it comes to buying peanut butter, salad dressing, condiments, bread and the dozens of other foods and drinks that you purchase from the supermarket, make sure that the added sugars are as close to zero as possible. Because if you don’t watch out for added sugars, your sugar intake is going to add up real fast.
The Dangers of Added Sugars
I’m sure I’ve written about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) before so excuse me if I’m repeating myself. But it’s totally worth hammering in your brain how dangerous artificial sweeteners like HFCS are. In a nutshell, what HFCS and synthetic sugars like aspartame and sucralose do is block your brain’s ability to get the message from your stomach that you’ve had enough to eat.
Also, eating lots of fructose causes the proliferation of compounds in the body known as advanced glycation end products. These products have a very appropriate acronym: AGE. AGE-products accelerate the ageing process in the body.
It used to be that only alcoholics developed fatty liver disease. But now, because of the pervasiveness of fructose in the food supply, the rates of fatty liver disease in non-alcoholics is soaring.
It’s important to mention that I’m not talking about fructose from whole fruit. I’m talking about the cheap, synthetic artificial sweetener.
To me, it’s a little insane that the American Heart Association recommends a daily limit of 6 teaspoons a day of added sugars for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Considering that high sugar intake leads to heart disease, you would think that the AHA would simply advise keeping added sugar intake to as close to zero as possible.
IMAGE ABOVE COURTESY US FDA
How Much Sugar Should I Have?
Hopefully, the next time the FDA revises the Nutrition Facts label, it will make it easy for consumers to know the maximum amount of sugar—keyword: natural sugars—they should eat in one day. Let’s do away with percentages because ain’t nobody got time to do the math when we’re in a rush.
So, FDA commissioner, in case you’re reading this, let’s prominently place the number of maximum grams of sugar per day that should be consumed.
And that amount is…
Well, in the past, the World Health Organization used to say that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from sugar. Then the WHO realized that that recommendation was ridiculous, so they lowered it down to 5%.
The average American consumes roughly 80 grams of sugar a day. Keep in mind that’s average. There are certainly many Americans eating twice that amount. I realize that everybody is different biochemically and some people exercise more than others. But if you had to put a number on it, what is the max amount of sugar you should have?
For most healthy people, I would recommend 40 grams of sugar from whole food sources such as fruits and vegetables.
Daily Sugar Intake For People With Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, you should probably limit your intake of total sugars to 20 grams per day.
Also crazy if you ask me is that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes should aim to get about half of their calories from carbs. That means if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 1,000 can come from carbs? What does the CDC think carbs convert into … magical unicorn fairy dust? Carbs convert into sugar. How can consuming half of your calories from carbs be considered smart blood sugar management? (It’s a rhetorical question; it’s not smart.)
In order to manage your diabetes, or even send it into remission, I recommend really upping your intake of natural, healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, organic dairy, olives, olive oil, etc…
If you have type 2 diabetes, ignore the recommendation to eat a low-fat diet. Eating fat helps stabilize blood sugars and keeps you full, and prevents cravings for empty-calorie, blood-sugar spiking foods. “Non-fat” and “low-fat” foods are not your friends, they are your mortal metabolic enemies!
The Leading Source Of Added Sugars
Beverages are the biggest offenders, accounting for nearly half of all added sugars. Obviously, soda is a big culprit. But what many people still don’t realize is how much sugar is contained in so-called “healthy juices.”
The big brand-name label juice companies that have been gobbled up by giant food conglomerates add a huge amount of sugar to their juices. And some of these juices at first glance appear healthy. They look green, loaded with green leafy vegetables. But if you take a look at the amount of sugar in the bottle, you’ll be floored.
I’m not one to name names, so I won’t throw the competition under the bus—even though they kind of deserve it because they are misleading people into thinking they are buying a healthy product when in fact it’s harming it.
Most store-bought juices contain 25, 30, 35 or even up to 50 grams of sugar per 16 oz. container!
Low-Sugar Nutrient-Dense Green Drink
If you’re looking for the healthiest juice possible, look no further than cold-blended Organic Green Drink with 7 leafy greens and only 6 grams of naturally-occurring sugar per 16 oz bottle.