I have some exciting news…. it’s official! Organizations and governments are (finally!) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake.
While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems…
- Different authorities don’t all agree with each other.
- The new regulations don’t go far enough in my opinion.
We all know sugar is NOT healthy for us. It has no nutrients, and excess consumption is associated with health problems.
Sugar is naturally a part of some foods and is also added to many food products. This “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. It’s a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it.
So how much sugar is “too much?”
Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar
Let’s start with the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.
Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases.
“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are a big problem. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 180,000 deaths worldwide per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, candies, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names and forms (that’s confusing right?).
Total sugars = Naturally occurring sugars + Added sugars.
The Official Change
The official change on the Nutrition Facts tables applies in both Canada and the USA. We will now start to see a %DV (% daily value). This means that both countries are implementing a benchmark for how much sugar we should have in a day.
In 2008, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 76.7 grams per day. And our experience has been that this is not health promoting.
In Canada, the new benchmark is 100 g/day of total sugar. The Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s recommendation is no more than 90 g of total sugars per day. In my opinion, these benchmarks are too high even though they include both natural and added sugars.
In the USA, the labels will now differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50 g of “added” sugars each day. However, this is still more than other authorities recommend such as:
- American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 24 g/day added sugar for women, and 36 g/day added sugar for men.
- The World Health Organization recommends preferably 25g added sugar per day for added health benefits.
What’s a Better Goal?
While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough in helping people to determine what foods to choose. So here goes…
First, ditch as many processed foods as possible, regardless of their sugar content. Studies show that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Period. And don’t eat your entire daily value of sugar from sweetened processed foods. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits.
Second, you don’t need to max out your daily sugar intake. There is NO NEED for added sugars in the diet. And these are maximums, not levels to strive for. Try to reduce your sugar intake below these official amounts for an even better goal.
Here are my top 3 recommendations to reduce your sugar intake. There are so many delicious foods without too much sugar!
- Eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages…these are the worst. This includes soda pop, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Replace with fruit-infused water. Try drinking your coffee/tea with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead of sugar.
- Make your own desserts. You can easily reduce the sugar in any conventional recipe by half. To make it easy, try some of the delicious “no sugar added” recipes below.
- Replace granola bars and other sugary snacks with fruit, a handful of nuts, hard-boiled eggs or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks if you prepare them in a “to-go” container the night before.
Let me know in the comments your favorite tips to reduce your sugar intake!
And check out my FREE sugar-free recipes and guidebook for further information.