1. Experts say: limit your added sugar
Some foods have sugar in them naturally, like fruit and milk. These sugars are called “natural sugars.” Other foods have “added sugar”, meaning they had sugar added to them during processing or preparation, such as sugar-sweetened breakfast cereal or the teaspoon of sugar you add to your morning coffee. The American Heart Association (AHA) does not suggest any specific limits to natural sugars, but they do recommend limiting added sugars as they can increase the risk for various health concerns like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
What does added sugar look like in real life?
2. Blood sugar levels are the amount of glucose in our blood.
Blood sugar is actually just another way to say blood glucose. Glucose is the main form of sugar that we eat, and what you eat regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Glucose comes from carbohydrates, both healthy (like whole grain bread or yogurt) and less healthy sources (like soda or sweetened muffins). If you eat foods high in carbohydrates, your blood glucose can increase. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, your blood glucose can fall. The type of carbohydrate you choose matters a lot! Try to choose the more nutritious option.
If someone has consistently high blood glucose levels the American Diabetes Association refers to this as Type 2 Diabetes. People with diabetes have to carefully manage their blood glucose levels since their body loses the ability to manage levels on its own. Learn more about diabetes here and here.
We’ll discuss glucose more in What’s the Deal with Sugar? Part 2.
3. Too much sugar can increase your risk for weight gain and dental caries.
Americans have consumed more added sugars in their diet over the past 30 years which has contributed to the rise of the obesity epidemic. Consuming excess sugar can increase weight gain (which in turn can increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes) and dental caries or cavities. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda and energy drinks, have specifically been linked to Type 2 diabetes development . As little as 1-2 sugary beverages per day can double your risk for Type 2 diabetes ! Following the AHA recommendations of daily added sugar can help prevent your risk.
4. Think you know which foods have more added sugar?
Let’s play a game. Choose from the following pictures which items have more than 10 grams of added sugar. Answers below!
Powerade= 35 g added
Lucky Charms= 13 g added
Watermelon=0 g added
Yogurt= 0 g added
Written by Taylor Newman, PhD/DI student | Edited by Laurel Sanville, MS, RDN, LD
Posted November 6th, 2016