The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recommended, for the first time, a cap on the amount of added sugar you should consume each day. The FDA’s recommendation is that you should consume no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from sugar. This equates to no more than 12.5 teaspoons or 50 grams per day.
To stay within the proposed recommendations, you need to be able to identify where added sugars are in foods. While added sugars are easily found and recognizable in sweetened drinks, like soda, cookies, and candy, they can also be found in foods that some may consider healthy. These healthy foods include yogurt, granola, whole grain breads, ketchup, pasta sauce, canned fruit, prepared soups, salad dressings, and marinades. “There’s a lot of hidden sugar in our food supply, and it’s not just in sweets,” said Dr. Frank Hu, a member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard.
To help consumers identify added sugars, the FDA has proposed changes to food labels that will distinguish added sugars from the amount of naturally occurring sugars. “When you see a yogurt with pictures of blueberries and strawberries on the label right now there could be a teeny tiny amount of real fruit in the there and an awful lot of added sugar, or lots of fruit or dairy and little added sugar, and the consumer cannot distinguish between the two,” said Susan Mayne, the director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA.
If you’re thinking that 50 grams of sugar isn’t much, you’re right, it’s not. With the foods that are common in your diet, it is very easy to reach those 50 grams without much effort. So let’s take a look at what 50 grams of sugar looks like.
- A 12-ounce can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar and a 16-ounce can contains 52 grams of sugar. But before you reach for that can of diet soda, you can read here how bad it is for you.
- A grande (16-ounce) caramel Frappuccino with whipped cream from Starbucks contains 52 grams of sugar. Its “lighter” version contains 29 grams.
- A serving of frosted flakes contains 10.3 grams of sugar. A serving size is ¾ cup. How often do you actually only eat the one serving? So you likely are eating at least double the amount of sugar in a sitting.
- One tablespoon of Smuckers Concord grape jelly contains 12 grams of sugar. The popular peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that are a staple in many children’s lunches are packed full of sugar.
- Yoplait yogurt contains about 26 grams of sugar, one-half of your daily allowance. And it’s not just Yoplait yogurts. Next time you pick up your yogurt from the store take a look at how much sugar it contains. It may surprise you.
- A 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains 54.4 grams and the “normal” 20-ounce bottle contains 34 grams of sugar. So think twice before grabbing a Gatorade to stay hydrated. Water should be your first choice.
Health experts offer many reasons for cutting back on sugar. Studies show that people who consume foods and drinks that have added sugar have a tendency to consume more calories than people who consume fewer foods with added sugar. This is because foods with more added sugars are more likely to be less nutrient dense, causing you to eat more because you don’t feel as full.
As health communicators, our role is ongoing as these recommendations continue. It is our responsibility to make ensure that our audiences are aware of these recommendations and to provide the proper education.
You can learn more about the dangers of added sugars in your diet from one of my previous posts here.