What is the daily amount of sugar we should limit ourselves? Does it make a difference if this is natural sugar, such as in fresh fruit, or added sugar in our foods?

There are natural sugars and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are found in fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). These are generally considered healthier sugars than added sugars. I would check the nutrition ingredients label if you are wondering if a product has added sugars. Examples include: corn syrup, corn sweetener, malt sugar, syrup, raw sugar, and molasses. A healthy way to improve diet is to reduce the amount of added sugars that you are taking in each day. Products generally containing added sugars include regular soda, candy, cookies, cakes, chocolate, fruit drinks etc. It is suggested that the typical American consumes approximately 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar per day!! This can add ~355 calories to your diet, and typically these foods do not contain important nutrients that are good for our overall health. For example, one 12 oz. can of a popular cola drink contains approximately 39 grams of sugar!

There are many different thoughts about sugar intake “limits”. The American Heart Association suggests that we limit added sugars to approximately 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men. If you feel like there is a lot of added sugar in your diet, I would recommend doing a diet inventory. Jot down what you are eating and drinking per day and look for foods with added sugar. Now see if you can make healthy and satisfying substitutions for some of these foods. If you typically enjoy a big bowl of ice cream as a late night snack, consider trying plain Greek yogurt and topping with strawberries and blueberries. If you have a sweetened fruit drink with your lunch consider enhanced water! Take a pitcher, fill with water and drop in lemon or cucumber slices. It is delicious and refreshing. In addition, substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in recipes and consider enhancing the flavor of dishes by using delicious spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.

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