There is more and more talk about sugar and how bad it is for you.  It has gotten a bad reputation and for a good reason. We have all these studies showing how sugar, particularly how excess sugar consumption has been linked with cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes,  certain cancers, inflammation and a lot more.

It is not surprising that we have a major sugar addiction problem in the US with sugar being added to most every packaged food. 

It can be startling to learn the amount of sugar in foods, even with the foods that don’t taste sweet.

First it is important to know according to the American Heart Association there are two types of sugars that are in our foods.  First there are the ones that come from natural whole foods like fruits and vegetables.  Second there are the sugars that are added sugars found in processed packaged foods like soft drinks, fruit drinks, candy, crackers, BBQ sauce, yogurt and thousands of more products. 

Looking at how much sugar is in a packaged food can be tricky, because the nutrition labels don’t distinguish the difference between the natural sugar and the added sugar.

If you want healthy blood sugars, to lose weight and optimize your health, then it would be in your best interest to avoid foods (packages foods) that contain added sugar.  Most packaged foods contain added sugar. 

The main goal for diabetics would be to increase their intake of nutritious carbs and sugars minimizing the less healthy ones whether on insulin or not.  But this shouldn’t be the goal just for diabetics; this should be the goal for anyone who wants to have optimal health. 

So how much added sugar is too much and what should you be looking for when you do eat packaged foods?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer for this.  As I said before; for people who want to lose weight and have optimal health it is best to avoid this. 

There are some people that can eat some sugar without seeing any harm, while others noticed changes in their health quickly.

So How Much to TOO Much??

I always look at the label first and see how many sugars are listed in the product.  There are many hidden sugars disguised.  For example…. molasses, maple syrup, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, glucose, corn syrup, dextrin, honey, and brown sugar, fruit juice concentrates, high- fructose corn syrup, malt sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar, corn sweetener,

The ingredients listed first are the biggest quantities added.  As you can see in the picture below with this label of “healthy Granola”, Cane sugar is the 2nd ingredient.

According to the American Heart Association they recommend Average

Women based on a 2000 calorie day diet; a total of 100 calories, or 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar a day

Men based on a 2000 calorie a day diet; a total of 150 calories, or 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) of added sugar a day. 

So a good starting place is to look at the total grams of sugar. 

For every 4 gram that equals approx. 1 teaspoon of sugar.

For example with this granola you got a total of 10 grams of sugar 10   ÷  4 = 2.5 

Whoa!!!!!!   So that is approx. 2.5 teaspoons of sugar.  If you are only recommended to have 6 teaspoons for the entire day, this is too much sugar. 

This doesn’t even include the yogurt you may have with it or any other foods you have with this meal.  Remember the label does not distinguish the difference between natural sugars and added sugars. 

The list of ingredients will help you determine this.  The foods with natural sugars are packed with important nutrients and are considered healthy choices. 

Some experts advise people with diabetes to have roughly 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal and 15 to 30 grams for snacks if needed.

Everyone is different so for people that are trying to lose weight or balancing sugars this amount of carbs may be reduced to half that amount. 

A good starting point is to reduce the amount of fruit you consume to 1 serving a day and grains or starchy veggies to 1 to 2 servings a day.  Increase your non starchy veggies to 2 to 3 cups per meal.  This just may totally transform your health. 

So the bottom line is to eat more whole fresh food.  Eat fewer processed foods.  Eating fewer processed foods is the simplest way to avoid sugar and burn the fat. 

So switch that bagel or muffin for a bowl of slow cooked oats with a tablespoon of nut butter or flax seeds and top with ½ cup of blueberries.  Yummy and satisfying!