Many of us absolutely love things that taste sweet, but do we really know how much sugar we should actually be eating in a day? With obesity, weight problems and many overall health struggles consistently on the rise, could it be that our obsession with sugary treats is actually shortening our lives or reducing our quality of life.
To start, the majority of us don’t actually know how much sugar we’re eating in a day, let alone how much we should be having. There are many reasons for this, ranging from a limitation in the nutrition labels on our foods to a lack of overall interest in the subject by most people. However, this doesn’t make the topic any less important.
Knowing how much sugar is the right amount begins with an understanding of what it does when we consume it. Overall sugars provide very usable energy for the body, which is great for staying energized and just making sure that we can go about our day and count on the fact that our required body functions will continue to occur. However, there is a vital distinction that needs to be made before stating how much is too little and how much is too much. That distinction is between natural sugars and added sugars.
Natural sugars are those that occur within healthful foods such as vegetables and fruits. Eating these foods comes with a balance of vital micronutrients as well as fiber and water. Because of that, this sweetness is a great part of a healthful diet that tastes great.
On the other hand, added sugars are the sweeteners – natural or otherwise – that are (as the name suggests) added to foods. This can include anything from the standard table sugar (also known as sucrose) to the infamous high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that has been receiving a lot of negative attention from the medical community and the media due to its contribution to weight management struggles and other health challenges. Unlike naturally occurring sugars, those that are added are not adequately balanced with the right nutrition and fiber levels in order to ensure that they are a healthful contribution to your diet.
Instead, they can contribute to a higher risk of weight gain and other conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
In conclusion, because of the differences in the two types of sugars, the actual amount that a person can safely eat within a day varies from one individual to the next. According to the American Health Association, when it comes to added sugars, the maximum amount that should be consumed within a 24 hour period is: 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) for men and 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for women.