Last week the American Heart Association announced ambitious new guidelines which recommend that all Americans heavily limit their added sugar intake for the sake of their health – and their hearts.
The new guidelines, which now mirror those set by the American Diabetes Association for persons with diabetes, state that added sugars (sugars that aren't naturally part of the food we eat) should not account for more than 100 calories a day for most adult women or 150 calories for adult men, or the equivalent of no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons a day respectively.
Naturally occurring sugars, like those found in milk, fruits, and vegetables are not limited in the recommendations (although they must be taken into account in any carbohydrate conscious diet). Considering that most Americans now consume 22 teaspoons, or 355 calories, per day -- largely from soft drinks and other sweetened beverages – the average American will need to cut their sugar intake by a whopping 70% to meet the new guidelines!
The American Heart Association argues the health impact is large as heavy sugar consumption contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, and elevated triglycerides - all of which increase the risk for heart disease. An additional health concern is that even when calories are kept in balance, empty sugar calories do not offer the fiber and nutrients from more nutritious foods.
Where Sugars Lurk
As those with diabetes, or anyone else who watches the sugar in their diet can attest, making the cut will be far from easy. While the sugar added to sweetened soft drinks and desserts may be obvious (a single soda has 8 to 10 teaspoons of added sugar and a piece of cake with frosting can have 15 teaspoons), many of the added sugars we consume are not as apparent.
Hidden sugars lurk in the many of the foods we eat. From condiments and sauces to breads, snack bars, and even salad dressings, sugar is just about everywhere. Here are six tips to help slash the sugar from any diet.
Six Tips for Reducing Added Sugars
Added sugars should be limited to less than 2 to 3 teaspoons per meal. (Added sugars contain approximately 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon).