Excessive sugar has not only been linked to obesity, but it can also lead to weight gain, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Sadly, though, sugar isn’t just about a luscious dessert any more. According to Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, “Food scientists have deliberately bumped up the sugar (and salt) content of foods so they are more addictive.”
This surge in sugar content didn’t happen yesterday; it has been going on since the late eighties/early nineties, when food manufactures deluged the public with low-fat foods.
No fat? No flavor. Add sugar so it tastes good.
The net result? The majority of humans, regardless of weight, release double the amount of insulin today than 30 years ago.
How it works
Here is a simple diagram to explain what happens when we eat sugar:
Plain and simple, the more sugar we eat, the more insulin we secrete and fat we store. It’s a never-ending cycle that is tough to break. What’s worse, with more energy socked away for later use, we have less energy to burn as fuel now, and thus we feel more lethargic.
Is this eating to feel good?
Where’s the sugar?
We’re not just getting sugar from desserts anymore, and it starts with breakfast. In one ¾ cup serving of Post’s popular Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, you’ll inherit 26 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of sugar. In Quaker Oats Life Cereal, you’ll consume almost the same (25 grams of carbohydrates; 6 grams of sugar). Not to pick on Starbucks, but a blueberry scone contains 61 carbohydrate grams and 17 grams of sugars (4+ teaspoons!).
Moving to a popular lunch for kids, Lunchables Maxed Out contains nine grams of saturated fat and 13 teaspoons of sugar. And at dinner, a half-cup serving of Prego Traditional spaghetti sauce contains the equivalent of more than two teaspoons of sugar, as much as two-plus Oreo cookies.
And I haven’t even gotten started on beverages, such as soda, tea and 100% juice, some of the biggest culprits of needless sugar. For example, a mere eight ounces of apple juice contains 26 grams of sugar, or 6 1/2 teaspoons.
How much is too much?
Intentional or not, there is no RDA or USDA guideline for how much sugar a person should eat. The American Heart Association recommends men limit added sugar to 36 g, or 9 tsp., per day and that women limit added sugar to 24 g, or 6 tsp., per day
To make matters even more confusing, “added” sugars are not listed out separately on a food label. You have to look at the ingredients list to determine sources of added sugars, which includes everything from high fructose corn syrup to honey to molasses to maple syrup.
How can you cut back?
Stay tuned Thursday for some of my simple strategies to cut down on sugar without having to cut it out, completely.
Image courtesy of Stop Sugar Cravings Easily.