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How Much Sugar Should You Be Consuming Per Day?

Medical Daily logo Medical Daily 30/9/2019 Seema Prasad

Sugar is an inescapable ingredient found in packaged food, juices, flavored milk and yogurt. Excessive dietary sugar intake has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular problems, obesity, high blood pressure, tooth decay and other dangerous illnesses. 

In fact, a recent study suggested that obesity in the U.S could be traced back to sugar consumption patterns in childhood, especially for those growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. In this light, being mindful of daily sugar intake is of utmost important to protect oneself against many diseases in the long run. 

Recommended Sugar Intake

The American Heart Association ((AHA) recommends that women should consume a maximum of 100 calories every day, which is the rough equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar. However, men should be able to consume 150 calories of dietary sugar every day, which amounts to almost 9 teaspoons. 

Unfortunately, the average American’s daily sugar intake is 17 teaspoons, which is not the appropriate amount to prevent lifestyle-related diseases. Since one gram is equal to 4 calories, 17 teaspoons amount to 71.14 grams, thus being extremely unhealthy. 

Is There a Difference Between Added and Natural Sugar?

Technically, no. Natural sugars are honey, maple syrup, white and brown sugar. However, fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars such as fructose and sucrose that are also a source of dietary fiber and are essential for a balanced diet, while milk contains a type of sugar called lactose. Similarly, carbohydrates contain glucose.

All these forms of sugar can be used as added sugars by manufacturers. This is why caloric sweeteners include high fructose corn syrup and lactose, which are chemically processed and are added as sugars in processed food.  

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Different Types of Sugar

Sugar is not restricted to the granular white substance that is scooped with teaspoons at home. Sugar includes any substance that adds calories and activates the sweet taste buds. 

Liquid sugar is found most commonly in soft drinks and sodas. Since it is processed by the body faster than regular sugar, liquid sugars increase blood glucose to dangerous levels, affecting the pancreas and liver. For instance, a can of soda could have 8 teaspoons of sugar or 130 empty calories. 

Refined sugar and processed sugar are entirely different from each other. For instance, in white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, the nutrients can be partially or wholly depleted during the refining process, with all the calories present but offering little or no nutrition.  The molasses is removed along with the calcium and iron. Due to the high processing refined sugar is subjected to, it has a longer shelf life. 

Processed sugar, which retains all the nutrition, are unrefined regardless of heat used while processing them. Examples are maple syrup and blackstrap molasses. The safest choice is both unprocessed and unrefined such as raw local honey that is highly nutritious for it has probiotics and enzymes. 

Compromised Immunity

In order to remain healthy, a maximum of 36 grams of sugar should be consumed daily. If this amount is crossed, the immune system slowly starts to suffer within 24 to 72 hours. It could take longer for them to recover from diseases since their immunity will be compromised. Children under the age of 12 should have only 18 grams per day for them to build up their immunity. 

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