Your Wellness Guide: Kicking Sugar
Goodbye sugar, we have to see other people.
While plenty of naturally occurring sugars exist in whole foods (think milk, fruits and vegetables), the amount of added sugar most Americans consume tips the scale to excess. While you’d expect to find added sugar in cookies, candy and soda, you can also find it in bread, cereals, fruit juice, granola bars, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, sports drinks and yogurt.
“Reducing our intake of added sugar can improve heart health, help with weight loss, decrease inflammation, boost energy levels, improve concentration, and reduce cavities,” says Eshani Ewing, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health. “Too much added sugar can contribute to high triglycerides, elevated cholesterol and excess calories, which can lead to obesity,” she adds, noting that all of these are risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure and inflammation. So reducing sugar can potentially decrease all of these risk factors.
Added sugar also has zero nutrients, so it’s something to be enjoyed on occasion. “I’m a huge believer in having sugar in moderation,” Ewing says. According to the American Heart Association, we should limit added sugars to no more than 100 calories a day (six teaspoons) for most women and no more than 150 calories a day (nine teaspoons) for most men. To put that into perspective, one 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar—that’s nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. Since cutting sugar out completely can lead to binging, Ewing suggests honoring that craving in a small way—such as enjoying one piece of chocolate.