High sugar consumption has become the single largest reason for diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases.
‘Added sugar’ is one of the most harmful food ingredients in our daily diet.
The natural sugar our body receives from grains and other carbs sources always come along with nutrients, minerals, and fiber.
But the added sugar we consume contains only empty calories that have adverse effects on metabolism and other vital functions of our body.
Regular and excess consumption of edibles like sweetened soft drinks, juices, snacks, cookies, and processed foods are harmful to our bodies.
Any sweetened food or drink beyond moderation is bad for health as they contain a lot of added sugar.
Now a question arises, “How much sugar per day is healthy and safe?”
In this article, we shall discuss this and other important matters related to ‘sugar consumption and health.’
Uncontrolled Sugar Consumption Is On The Rise
A large number of people all over the world are sugar addicts. Sweetened processed foods and beverages are the most commonly consumed foods by most of us.
As per one of the analysis data published in 2008, the US people (on average per head) are consuming 60 pounds of sugar per year. The daily intake of sugar per person in the US is about 306 calories or 19 teaspoons of sugar.
Consuming more than 300 calories of sugar per day is quite a big amount that can certainly cause disease in most people over a period.
Most cases of diseases like type II diabetes, heart ailments, tooth decay, non-alcoholic fatty liver, certain cancers, and many more are caused by the excess intake of sugar.
As we are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of sugar, most of us are making conscious efforts to reduce the consumption of sweetened beverages and foods.
Added Sugar V/s Natural Sugar
Sugar (as a carbohydrate variant) is naturally present in most foods like vegetables, milk, fruits, and grains that we regularly consume.
However, the percentage of sugar per calorie present in these foods and natural sweeteners is comparatively less, and they also contain water, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The sugar contained in these foods is not harmful to the body.
Added sugar is any sweetener that is added to processed foods and beverages while they are being made.
Corn syrups, brown sugar, cane sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and all forms of table sugars are common types of added sugar used in various processed foods and beverages.
The added sugar is very high in calories and does not contain any vitamins and nutrients. It is mostly the ‘added sugar’ that leads to the development of high levels of blood sugar and the many diseases arising out of it.
However, a moderate amount of added sugar consumption may not cause any major health issues in most people.
How Much Sugar Per Day Is Safe To Consume?
It is very difficult to question to answer as each person’s body reacts differently to sugar levels in the body.
Some people can eat a lot of sugar and remain healthy, but for some others, even a little amount of regular sugar consumption can cause disease.
The recommendations by the American Heart Association (AHA) on daily sugar consumption could be the safest suggestion that we can rely upon.
- Men: 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons/37.5 grams)
- Women: 100 calories per day (6 teaspoons/25 grams)
Most people are certainly exceeding the healthy sugar consumption limit per day as recommended by the AHA.
For example, when you drink 12oz (355 ml) of Coca-Cola, it contains 39 grams of sugar which adds about 140 calories to your body. Another popular beverage ‘Red Bull Energy Drink’ of 250ml (8.3oz) contains 27 grams of sugar which adds 108 calories to your body.
As a general guideline, it is always good to limit the added sugar consumption between 90 to 150 calories per day. This will keep you healthy and active without becoming obese.
If you can completely avoid the added sugar, it is the best choice you can make for your better health. Added sugar has NO health benefits at all.
Is It Safe For Obese People To Consume Sugar?
‘People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’ This proverb can very well be used to summarize the health condition of an obese person.
Obese people, who are already at the highest risk of bad health, should try to avoid the added sugar consumption altogether.
Added sugar brings no benefit to the health, but will only aggravate the obesity condition.
Those who are already in the habit of having a lot of sugar-sweetened food daily, try to get rid of this habit as early as possible.
If you are fatty and overweight, strictly avoid sweetened food items like beverages, processed and baked foods, and all types of candies.
For obese people, it is always good to have whole-grain foods, vegetables, and protein-rich foods than all those sugary foods.
Overcoming Sugar Addiction
Just like substance abuse, sugar addiction is also a difficult habit to overcome. The brain likes to be stimulated by the sweet taste.
I have come across a lot of people who literally cannot stop gorging on sweetened snacks and beverages. It is almost irresistible to say NO to them…they have the continuous urge to eat it whenever possible.
The first step to getting rid of this bad food habit is to become aware of the habit and be conscious of the bad effects of sugar on health.
Have a well-planned healthy diet plan and meticulously follow the same. Don’t even entertain the thought of having sweetened foods in your mind.
Try to develop a feeling of hatred towards these foods as you know they are harmful to your health.
Just a few weeks of a conscious effort to abstain from sugary foods and drinks will help you stay away from them for life.
What All Sugary Foods You Should Avoid?
Unfortunately, the most commonly used beverages and processed food items all contain a lot of added sugar.
We have already grown up from childhood with such foods as a major part of our daily diet. It is really hard to avoid them suddenly.
Here are some of the most commonly used sweetened food items that you should forgo for good.
- Fruit juices, especially canned ones, are sweetened with fructose syrups or sugar.
- All sweetened beverages (including soda) are bad for health as they contain a lot of added sugar that is very high in calories.
- Baked foods like cakes, cookies, biscuits are highly processed foods with a very high amount of sugar in them; avoid them as much as possible.
- All kinds of sweets and candies are really bad for consumption.
- Dried fruits are also avoidable as they are naturally rich in sugar and often come with an extra sugar coating.
- Dairy products without fat are usually high in sugar, and they are not so healthy for regular consumption.
It is always good to prepare foods that do not need sugar as an ingredient. Try to substitute the sugar in recipes with natural flavoring ingredients like almond milk, vanilla, lemon, ginger, or nutmeg.
The use of natural calorie-free sugar like Stevia is a good substitute for harmful sugars.
You should make a conscious effort to drink more water and avoid all sweetened beverages like soda and coke.
Another best way to avoid sugar is to replace all your favorite processed foods and snacks with fresh fruits, soups, or nuts.
The Bottom Line
Added sugar is the most commonly used ingredient in most of the processed food items we eat today. The excess consumption of added sugar is the main reason for many major diseases today.
A lot of sugar may not be so bad for young people, but most people above thirty could quickly develop major diseases with daily consumption of little extra sugar.
It is important to be aware of your health condition before you decide to eat any type of food that contains added sugar.
Prevention is the best cure…you need not wait for getting a serious disease like diabetes and heart issues to stop consuming sugar.