As a nation, we’ve become more aware of the dangers associated with a diet that contains too much sugar. From type 2 diabetes to obesity, sugar is linked to a variety of health conditions. Even if you cut back on cookies, cakes, candy, and sugary drinks, you might still be consuming more sugar than you think.
In honor of World Heart Day on September 29, now is a good time to talk about sugar consumption guidelines and hidden sources of sugar in the average American’s daily diet.
Daily Sugar Limits Recommended by the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association (AHA) released the following sugar limits in August 2009. These numbers are for all added sugars combined.
- Women and sugar: The AHA says women should consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. That translates to six teaspoons of added sugar.
- Sugar limits for men: The AHA suggests men limit sugar intake to 36 grams, or nine teaspoons per day.
These guidelines are more restrictive than many people are aware of. That makes it especially important to know where sugar may be lurking in some of your favorite foods and beverages.
This starts by recognizing all of the different names that food manufacturers use for sugar on a product’s ingredient list:
- Ingredients that end with “ose” are often another name for sugar. Examples include fructose, sucrose, dextrose, and maltose.
- Syrups such as sorghum, carob, corn, and rice are sources of sugar used to sweeten foods.
- Barley malt, agave nectar, honey, and molasses are other sweeteners that are found in prepared foods.
Eliminating Hidden Sugar in Foods
If you are trying to get an objective idea on just how much sugar you might be consuming in a day, it’s important to know which foods contain hidden sources of sugar. While each might contain only small levels of sugar, over the course of a day or week, they can add up to an unhealthy amount.
Here are some condiments, beverages, and foods you might be surprised to learn contain some type of added sugar:
- Barbecue sauce
- Salad dressing
- Bread and rolls
- Fruit spread
- Fruit juice
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Instant oatmeal
- Cold breakfast cereals
- Granola bars
- Energy and sports drinks
- Almond, rice, soy, and cashew milk
The best way to manage sugar in your diet is to prepare your own meals from scratch using fresh ingredients. For those prepared and convenience foods you do purchase, read the label carefully. If you’re unfamiliar with an ingredient, look it up online on your smart phone in the grocery store.
Nutritionists say that, in general, it’s usually a good idea to avoid foods with a long list of ingredients or ingredients you aren’t familiar with.
Healthy Eating at Sunrise
Because we know how important a healthy, well-balanced diet is to older adults, we share the nutritional breakdown of every meal served at Sunrise Senior Living communities on our website. From the jelly served at breakfast to the buttered corn you eat for dinner, you can review every food item for sugar, salt, fiber, and more. We invite you to call a community near you to set up a time to join us for a meal!