Sugar enjoys quite the popularity in this modern day and age where most of us have indulged in various foods to satisfy our sweet cravings. However, despite its popularity, this sweet substance has quite a bad reputation when it comes to health. As you may be aware, sugar is a substance that is present in all foods that contain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide us with energy so sugar can’t be entirely eliminated from our diet. However, we need to watch our daily sugar intake, as they can pose various health problems when consumed in excess.
Sources Of Daily Sugar Intake
Sugar is either found naturally or is added artificially to various foods. Naturally, sugar is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. On a daily basis, the consumption of natural sugars doesn’t pose a threat to our body as the natural sources are also high in either fiber, minerals, antioxidants, protein, or calcium. Additionally, they are also beneficial as they supply energy for a prolonged period of time and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.
In a regular diet, the sources of added sugars can be from processed and canned food such as cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, juices, soft drinks, soups, ketchup, etc. Surprisingly, added sugar is found in most of the processed foods as companies add them either to increase their product shelf life or to enhance the product taste. In contrast to the benefits of natural sugars, artificial sugars pose a threat as the digestive system breaks down these added sugar rapidly, causing energy and blood sugar levels to skyrocket in individuals. People often use the term sugar rush to describe this feeling.
Daily Sugar Intake – How Much Is Actually okay?
Many of us might have observed how some people can eat enormous amounts of sugar without any side effects while many can’t handle even small intakes. As sugar behaves differently in every individual, there is no standard amount of daily sugar intake that can be prescribed or recommended for everyone.
Even though there is no set recommended dietary allowance of sugar, the American Heart Association (AHA) has issued some guidelines. According to AHA, men shouldn’t eat more than 150 calories i.e. about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of added sugar per day. While women are recommended to not eat more than 100 calories of added sugar per day, which is equivalent to 25 grams or 6 teaspoons. According to research, anyone who consumes more than the recommended amount can face some serious health consequences in the long-term.
Health Effects Of Excess Daily Sugar Intake
1. Obesity and Cancer
Added sugar is being consumed more than ever before, leading to an increased rate of obesity across the globe. Even though there isn’t a set recommended amount of sugar intake, excess sugar consumption can often lead to obesity and cause health issues such as breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
2. Cardiovascular Disease
In spite of the fact, that doctors can’t identify the exact reason why obesity causes cancer, they have been able to identify various mechanisms that interlink obesity and cancer. Firstly, according to research the chronic low inflammation suffered by obese people can cause DNA damage that leads to cancer. Secondly, obesity can cause cancer as the fat tissues produce high levels of estrogen which can be linked to breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer. Additionally, obese individuals also display high levels of insulin, which can make them prone to colon, prostate, or endometrial cancer.
Sugar can also damage to the cardiovascular health of individuals. Researchers in 2014 published a study that talks about the association between a high sugar diet and a risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. The researchers observed people over a course of 15 years and identified that those who consumed more added sugar displayed a higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Even though doctors can’t point out the exact role sugar plays in heart health, there is a proven association between both.
Added Sugar Ingredients To Avoid
As mentioned above, there are several negative implications of a high sugar diet. So, the next time you are out for grocery shopping, you might want to keep an eye out for these added sugar ingredients in processed food:
- Corn sweeteners
- Corn juice and syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Honey or Nectar
- Malt or maple syrup
- Brown sugar
Overall, it might be hard to reduce the amount of added sugar intake overnight. However, we need to focus on the big picture and try to incorporate healthy eating habits. If you want to know more about how to balance your food, it is always best to consult a nutritionist.