Daily Sugar Intake: How Much Sugar Should You Eat Per Day
The battle with sugar continues. Is sugar good? How much of it is too much in one day? These are some of the most common questions our modern society is endlessly trying to answer. The questions surrounding the intake of sugar are not new. With an increasing number of diseases being attributed to a high sugar intake, there is little wonder people are becoming more and more concerned about the amount of sugar they consume. Heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain are a few of the problems associated with too much sugar consumption. What has become even more alarming is the fact that these diseases are on the rise in sync with the number of food items that have sugar as part of their ingredients.
Indeed, sugar is sweet and nobody needs to be convinced about this fact. And it is this sweetness that drives a lot of sugar consumers to patronize it. It is one of the commonest ingredients in most processed foods – especially beverages, snacks, and pastries. It will be very difficult to attempt to avoid taking in sugar altogether. But one does not need to go to that extreme to stay healthy. Knowing just how much sugar is too much much sugar for the day is the first step towards avoiding the health problems overindulgence comes with. In this article, we will tackle the question of how much sugar one should eat per day.
There is a huge difference between sugar that occurs naturally and sugars that are artificially added to foods. Naturally occurring sugars are found in natural foods like fruits and some vegetables. Sugars that are added artificially to foods are processed sugar. This type of sugar is the main ingredient in sweets, beverages, carbonated drinks, cakes, and pastries. Naturally occurring sugars are safe to consume. This is because they usually come in healthy foods that contain fiber, water, and some micronutrients. The same cannot be said about added processed sugar. They are considered unhealthy and the main culprits for weight gain and heart diseases.
Another worrying fact is that sugar intake has increased at an alarming rate over the years. It is estimated that the average adult consumes about seventy-seven grams of sugar in a day. However, what is now referred to as sugar has increased. The term sugar has been enlarged to contain things like brown sugar, maltose, malt syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and many more. Thus, when the talk is made about increasing amount of sugar consumption, a lot of other things are being considered.
One final fact is, natural sugar which processed from foods like sugarcane, is a type of simple carbohydrate. It refers to mono-saccharide and di-saccharide.
Benefits of Sugar
It is not all bad news when it comes to sugar consumption. Like any other food, too much intake of sugar comes with a lot of problems. But when taken properly, sugar has several benefits. Let us take a look at some of them.
- Calories: Sugar is rich in calories – four calories per one gram of sugar. Calories provide the body with the energy it needs for its daily activities. However, because sugar lacks added nutritional value like fiber, the energy it provides does not last long. What one gets instead, is increased productivity for a brief moment.
- Good skin-health: Sugar contains glycolic acid. This acid helps to remove skin blemishes while ensuring that the balance in the skin’s natural oils is maintained. Thus, sugar plays a role in making sure that you have healthy skin.
- Added Nutrients: Natural sugar which is found in fruits like sugarcane are different from processed sugar when it comes to health benefits. Natural sugar comes with added nutrients like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. These are not present in industrially-refined sugar.
- Easily Processed: Naturally-occurring sugar is easily processed by the body as compared to industrially-refined sugar. This is because industrially-refined sugar comes with other added elements which the body finds difficult to break down.
- Blood Sugar: Natural sugars that occur in fruits and milk are complex carbohydrates which provide some nutrition. Plus, they help to regulate blood sugar. They have been added to some treatment for diabetes.
Is Sugar Good for You?
As mentioned earlier, sugar has several benefits. Whether or not sugar is good for you depends on how much you consume and what health issues you may be struggling with.
Sugar from natural sources like fruit, vegetables, and milk come with added nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and hydration because of the water content. Another advantage of enjoying sugar from natural sources is that you do not have to bother about insulin spikes that are considered unhealthy.
Have you ever felt this surge of lightheartedness or happiness when you munch on your favorite chocolate or cake? Research has shown that sugar can provide an instant boost to a person’s boost. It does so by activating what is called the pleasure center of the human brain. It causes a rush of dopamine which produces a euphoric feeling instantly. Yup, sugar makes people happy.
While it is a fact that the energy boost that sugar provides is instant and short-lived, sugar can provide energy that is beyond the sudden boost. Through a process called glycogenesis, the body stores the converted glucose in the form of energy to be used later. The great thing about this is that it helps a person to go long hours without needing to eat again. However, when too much glucose is stored, the rest is stored as fat. And that is what you do not want.
Despite the benefits of sugar, it is not recommended when a person is struggling with certain health issues like diabetes and obesity. Also, one has to control how much sugar one consumes in a day, which leads to the next question. How much sugar can a person consume in a day?
Recommended Daily Sugar Intake
So how much sugar is a person supposed to eat in a day to avoid the health issues sugar comes with? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. That is to say that there is no recommended amount of sugar to consume in a day. The reason is that some people can take a lot of sugar in a day without any harm. For others, they should avoid it as much as they can every day.
The American Heart Association has made some recommendations when it comes to the maximum amount of sugar a person is safe to consume in a day. According to the association, an adult man should not consume more than thirty-seven grams of sugar a day. This is equivalent to about a hundred and fifty calories a day. An adult woman should not consume more than twenty-five grams of sugar in a day. This is equivalent to a hundred calories a day.
However, according to the United States dietary guidelines, sugar consumption should be limited to less than ten percent of a person’s daily calories consumption. Thus, for example, if a person takes two thousand calories a day, they may not consume more than fifty grams of sugar in a day.
The difference between the recommendation by the American Heart Association and the United States dietary guidelines is that the latter links intake with weight and calories consumption. This makes sense because healthy, lean, and active people are expected to burn extra sugar easily without any issues as compared with people struggling with weight issues.
But the bottom line here is if you want to stay healthy, consume less sugar.
Some Myths About Sugar You Should Not Believe
Let us finish off this blog article with some myth-breakers. There are several shows, documentaries, lectures, and books that are spreading so much misinformation about sugar either for marketing reasons or for some other personal gains.
- Some types of sugars are healthier than other types: If you have ever been told that brown sugar or any other type of sugar is better, do not believe it. Every type of sugar is broken down into glucose. The basic element in all forms of sugar is carbohydrates. This can be used as glucose.
- Sugar-high: Sugar does not make people hyperactive. That is just another myth. Recent scientific research has confirmed that there is no connection between sugar intake and hyperactivity. Plus, sugar does not affect behavior in children.
- Sugar addiction: There have been some claims that sugar can be as addictive as hard drugs. But there is absolutely no evidence to back that claim.
- Artificial sweeteners are better than sugar: This is also false. A recent study shows that some sweeteners have fewer calories than sugar. However, people who drink diet coke, for example, are twice as likely to be overweight than those who drink regular coke.
- Sugar and cavities: Does sugar cause cavities? No, it does not. Cavities are caused by foods that have acidic content that wears away the enamel.
To sum it all up, how much sugar a person should take depends on factors like weight, active lifestyle, and health. Lean, active, and healthy people are more likely to burn a lot of sugar they consume. However, it is recommended that a person’s daily intake should not exceed ten percent of their calories consumption. Moderation is key when it comes to healthy consumption. Sugar from natural sources like fruits, vegetables, and milk come with added nutrients, fiber, and water, unlike processed sugar. You can consume as many fruits as you want without worry.
- How much sugar should I eat? – BBC Good Food
- Daily Intake of Sugar — How Much Sugar Should You Eat Per Day? – Healthline