What You Need to Know About Added Sugar

By now, most of us know that our bodies are not a big fan of processed  added sugar. Unfortunately, we may still be consuming high amounts of sugar without even knowing it. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (1), women and kids should be consuming 25 grams of sugar or 6 teaspoons daily and men should be consuming 36 grams or 9 teaspoons daily. Can you guess the average American’s sugar consumption per day? The answer is 17 teaspoons, which is almost 70 GRAMS of sugar!


The thing is, most Americans are making an effort to reduce sugar. The 2018 Food and Health Survey(2) found that 60% of people swapped their caloric drink for water. The study also found that 6 out of 10 people viewed sugar negatively and nearly half of the people surveyed stopped consuming soda, candy, and baked goods to reduce their sugar intake. 

Although these are a great start to reducing sugar, there are still many places sugar could be hiding in your everyday meals. 

Natural Sugar vs. Added Sugar grid
Differences between the types of foods that contain natural sugar vs. added sugar

Here are a few things to be aware when you are trying to cut back on sugar: 

Know these names of different types of sugar (these are just to name a few!)

  • Fructose 
  • High Fructose-Corn Syrup
  • Agave Nectar
  • Cane Juice
  • Barley malt syrup
  • Carob syrup
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrin
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • Honey
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Rice syrup
  • Organic cane sugar (yes still unhealthy) 

Pay attention to the nutrition label

New Nutrition Label
The differences you’ll see on the new nutrition label

Did you know that there is a new nutrition label? The FDA developed a new nutrition label (3) that will make it easier for people to understand what exactly they will be consuming. By January 1, 2020 manufacturers that make $10 million or more in sales must update their label and manufacturers that make less than $10 million have until January 1, 2021 (3).
An important change to notice is that they are now required to tell you how much sugar they added. Before it was a combination of natural and added, so it was confusing to understand what you really were consuming. 

Remember to read the ingredients, even if it sounds healthy

Don’t be fooled by the food company’s marketing. Here are some trending health words to watch out for: 

  • Organic
  • Gluten-free
  • Low fat
  • Fat-free
  • Low carb
  • Dairy-free
  • Whole wheat
  • All-natural
  • Multigrain
  • No sugar added
  • Made with real fruit

Read the ingredient list!

For example, you can read the front of the cool and trendy label with all these great promises of “gluten-free”, “organic”, “no high fructose corn syrup”, but it can still be loaded with sugar and other processed or artificial ingredients. 

It is one thing if you just really want a cookie. You are fully aware that the cookie has sugar and you enjoy every single bite. But, what about the marinara sauce, peanut butter, or yogurt you’re eating without even knowing how much sugar is in it? Would you enjoy it as much? Or would you choose a different brand? You have to do a little digging, but it is worth it. Sugar can find its way into so many things. You may find you easily reduce your sugar intake by simply doing a little investigating before you consume it.

1) (2016, March). 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Cut Down on Added Sugars. Retrieved from https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/DGA_Cut-Down-On-Added-Sugars.pdf

2) International Food Information Information Council Foundation. (2018) 2018 Food & Healthy Survey.  https://foodinsight.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-FHS-Report-FINAL.pdf

3) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 30 Aug. 2018, https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label

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