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How Much Sugar is Too Much?

By Kate Gardner

Peanut M&M's, Gummy Worms, snickerdoodles, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. That's my list of weaknesses. OK, it's only a partial list. In the war between sweet and savory, I definitely fall on the side of sweet. I've noticed that the amount of sugar I eat has been slowly creeping up to the point where it has become something I need to think about.  But how much sugar can I eat?

Daily Intake

For starters, it's important to know a few things about sugar. Some foods, like fruits and milk, have naturally occurring sugars. Other foods, like Twinkies, have added sugar. While your body treats different kinds of sugar more or less the same, foods with naturally occurring sugars tend to also have a lot of good-for-you stuff like fiber and vitamins. When you think about how much sugar you eat, it can be helpful to break it down in terms of added sugars and naturally occurring sugars. 

Not everyone agrees on how much added sugar is OK, but everyone agrees Americans eat too much. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say we should keep added sugars to less than 10 percent of our daily calories. The American Heart Association recommends that men should eat no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, as well.  

It Adds Up

If you heaped up six teaspoons of sugar, it might look like a lot. But when you start to examine how much added sugar is in your favorite foods, you'll see that it adds up quickly. Keep in mind, there are 4 grams in a teaspoon of sugar. The following amounts were taken from the USDA Food Composition Database

  • 12-ounce Pepsi = 41 grams of sugar = 10.25 teaspoons of sugar

  • 1 bag of Peanut M&M's = 25 grams of sugar = 6.25 teaspoons of sugar

  • 8 Albanese Gummi Bears = 13 grams of sugar = 3.25 teaspoons of sugar

  •  1 cup mint chocolate chip ice cream = 25 grams of sugar = 6.25 teaspoons of sugar

Most sugary drinks, such as sodas and sweetened teas, have a good deal more than the total recommended added sugars for a whole day!

Reduce or Eliminate

Setting your goals will help you make a plan. If you want to eliminate added sugar (or even naturally occurring sugars) your plan will be different than if your goal is to reduce your sugar consumption. Either way, you will need to know how much sugar is in the foods you eat by reading labels or using a food database or app.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lawrenceville, Ga. 

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