Everyone knows that consuming excess amounts of sugar is bad for your health. And while it may seem easy enough to avoid table sugar, many may not realize that seemingly “healthy” sugars like honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar are still consider added sugar. Read on for seven important facts to know about sugar, including what counts as added sugars and how much is too much.
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- How much sugar is too much? 2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that added sugars make up no more than 6% of our daily calories. In other words, you shouldn’t be consuming more than 20 to 30 grams – less than two tablespoons – per day.
- A diet high in added sugars has inflammatory effects, and is linked to an increased risk of conditions ranging from cancer and heart disease to joint pain, among others.
- Added sugars contribute to excess calories and weight gain, with minimal or no nutritional benefit.
- A diet high in added sugars can set us up on the blood sugar and cravings rollercoaster, causing and perpetuating our desire for more carbs and more sugars.
- By 2021, food labels will be required to reveal just how much added sugar is in their products.
- Many people think that maple syrup, honey, raw coconut sugar, organic cane sugar, “vegan” sugar, beet sugar and turbinado are healthier alternatives to sugar. But the fact is that these are all still considered added sugar and should be limited in our diet.
- When picking sugar alternatives or better-for-you sweeteners, opt for plant-based, zero-calorie sweeteners such as Swerve (blend of erythritol, oligosaccharides and natural flavor from citrus), monkfruit sweetener and stevia.
Editor’s note: Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is she paid to recommend items. A version of this article originally appeared on WGNO’s “Get FUELED with Molly” segment.