Evidence continues to emerge about the negative health consequences of consuming too much sugar. The sweet stuff has now been linked to a host of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even dementia.
Part of the reason sugar has become so ubiquitous in the American diet has to do with the low-fat craze of the last couple decades. When food manufacturers began removing fat from processed foods, flavor suffered. To compensate, they began replacing fat with sugar. Slowly, but surely, sugar has crept into foods you’d never suspect—foods like ketchup, yogurt, and even salad dressing.
The sugars found naturally in whole foods like fruit are generally fine to consume, since they come with fiber and other nutrients. The real issue is added sugars—things like table sugar you add to your coffee, and added sugars in processed foods like cookies, candy, and most processed foods, in general.
There are hundreds of different names for sugar, making it difficult for the average person to identify the hidden sugars in packaged foods. Here are just some of the names for sugar found on food labels:
- Barley Malt
- Glucose solids
- Rice Syrup
Today, more than half of Americans consume a half a pound of sugar every day. This is an enormous increase from just a few hundred years ago, when sugar was a luxury available only to the wealthy and average consumption was around four pounds per year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reduced its recommendations for sugar consumption to about 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons per day. Consider that a regular (non-diet) soda has between 35 and 41 grams of sugar per 12 ounces.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Consumption
The best way to reduce the amount of sugar you consume is to eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains like brown rice and pasta, nuts, beans and meats. Limit processed foods like cookies, pastries, candy, and limit added sugar to special occasions. Evidence continues to emerge about the dangers of heavy sugar consumption. Protect your health and keep insurance costs down with a healthy, balanced, low-sugar diet.
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