Cut It Out: How Much Sugar Is Too Much? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on January 21, 2015

Cut It Out: How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

Added sugar is one of the worst things you can include in your diet.

Added sugar is one of the worst things you
can include in your diet.

You might want to reconsider calling your significant other “sugar” or “sweetie” as a term of endearment. Why? Because, when it comes to your health, sugar can be downright evil.

More specifically, added sugar is one of the worst things you can include in your diet – it adds calories with no nutritional benefit. Not to mention it can sabotage your metabolism in the long run. Consuming too much sugar has long been linked to gaining weight, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If eating too much sugar is bad for you, does that mean there is a healthy amount of sugar you can consume without suffering the negative health impacts?

Yes, that is possible, but it’s important to note that not all sugar is created equally. Sugar naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables. But then there’s added sugars. There’s a huge difference between these two types of sugar.

Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods that not only contain natural sugar, but also water, fiber and a variety of micronutrients that your body needs.

Added sugars are just that – added to our foods. The most common types are regular table sugar, a.k.a. sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup. These are the types of sugar you should avoid, but here’s the catch: added sugars are in a vast majority of our foods. According to research, added sugars make up at least 10 percent of the calories the average American eats in a day. However, about one in 10 people get a whopping one-quarter or more of their calories from added sugar.

Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest culprits of added sugar in the average American’s diet, accounting for more than one-third of the added sugar our nation consumes. Other major sources of added sugar include candies, cakes, pies, baked goods, ice cream, cereals and more. Added sugar is also deceivingly high in low fat “diet” foods, pasta sauces and yogurt, which are all foods people believe to be healthy.

Like all things, consuming in excess can lead to health problems. In the case of added sugar, those health issues range from dental decay to obesity and diabetes. And consistently choosing foods high in added sugar can result in a person not getting enough of their essential dietary nutrients.

So how much sugar is within safe and healthy limits? Natural sugar is a part of a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. This naturally-occurring sugar, which is also accompanied by valuable vitamins and minerals, is not a source of health problems.

Based on an average 2,000-calorie diet, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a maximum of 10 percent of your total calories come from added sugar. That equates to less than 50 grams of added sugar a day.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends an even stricter diet, saying that men should only consume 150 calories per day from sugar. That equals about 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons of added sugar. Women should only consume 100 calories per day from added sugar, which is 25 grams or 6 teaspoons.

However, it’s important to mention that there is no need for added sugars in your diet since they don’t serve any sort of nutritional benefit to you. The more wholesome, natural food you eat while cutting back on processed foods, the less added sugar you will consume. And that equates to you being an overall healthier individual.

Related Locations

eNewsletter Signup

Our eNewsletters from Crozer-Keystone Health System help keep you up-to-date on your health and well being. View recent editions or sign up to receive our free eNewsletters.