Treats, such as these caramel apples from last summer’s trip to Rehoboth Beach (yum!), are a fun and rewarding part of life.
Too many treats, however, will easily exceed your daily recommended sugar intake. Do you know how much processed sugar (not fruits) you’re consuming each day? Did you know that sugar hides in many foods, and many of these foods are not desserts?
The obvious places sugar can be found include cookies, candies, cakes, doughnuts, soda, and ice cream, but the less obvious places include cereals, breakfast foods, sauces, condiments, peanut butter, yogurt, and more.
According to the American Heart Association, men should only be consuming about 37.5g of sugar per day, or 9 teaspoons. Women can consume around 25g, or 6 teaspoons.
To visualize grams into teaspoons (a trick that personally helps me), take the number of grams and divide it by 4. This will give you an estimate for how many teaspoons you’re consuming; 20 grams of sugar, therefore, is 4 teaspoons.
It’s important to check the sugar content in almost everything. Below are a few popular grocery items and their grams of sugar per serving:
- Soda: 41g per 12oz Serving (10.25 teaspoons)
- Non-Organic Ketchup: 4g per 1 Tablespoon (1 teaspoon)
- Greek Yogurt Cup: 9g per Cup (2.25 teaspoons)
- French Vanilla Coffee Creamer: 5g per 1 tablespoon (1.25 teaspoons)
- Single Serve Frozen Pepperoni Pizza: 12g per 4-slice Pizza (3 teaspoons)
- Dark Chocolate Strawberry “Nutrition” Bar: 14g per Bar (3.5 teaspoons)
Considering these numbers, it’s so easy to consume excess amounts of sugar.
For example, if you had 2 cups of coffee and cream (2.5 teaspoons), a bagel (3g sugar each = 0.75 teaspoons) and cream cheese (5g per 2 tablespoons = 1.25 teaspoons), half of the single-serve pizza (2 slices, 6g sugar = 1.5 teaspoons), and a dark chocolate strawberry bar for a snack (3.5 teaspoons), you’ve only made it to the end of the work day, and you’re already at 9.5 teaspoons of sugar, which is 3.5 more teaspoons then you should’ve consumed today! In this instance, you haven’t eaten dinner yet, and you really haven’t eaten that much. It is important to be an informed consumer when it comes to sugar content.
Why does your sugar intake matter? Sugar is harmful to the body in large doses, and too much sugar can cause dental cavities, diabetes, cognitive decline, liver failure, weight gain, and heart problems.
Desserts and treats are fine in moderation, but it’s important to keep a balanced diet and to be aware of the places where sugar can hide. (Luckily, the above does not apply to fresh fruits, so keep eating that fruit you love!)