In her book, “I Quit Sugar,” author Sarah Wilson describes her many years as a food researcher analyzing the adverse effects of sugar consumption and why it is harmful to our bodies when overconsumed.
One of the main reasons sugar is harmful to humans is its abundance in the majority of the processed foods and beverages that we consume each and every day.
Perhaps the most common use of consuming sugar is found in carbonated soft drinks such as colas and fruit juices. A twelve ounce serving of a cola contains up to 10 or more teaspoons of sugar and 140 calories. Nutritionists claim that men should consume just 9 teaspoons of sugar per day, whereas for women, just 6 teaspoons of sugar is the recommended daily amount.
How do we know how much sugar we’re consuming from food or drink? The answer is to read the nutritional label on the package and by simple arithmetic, divide the grams of sugar by 4.2 to find the number of teaspoons of sugar consumed in a serving. For example, the amount of ‘Sugars’ are located under ‘Total Carbohydrates’ on a nutrition label. The amount is measured in metric quantities such as grams or mgs. In order to determine the amount of sugar per serving, divide the number of grams of sugar by 4.2 (or round to 4).
This nutrition label is of a 12 ounce can of soda which contains:
• 39 grams of sugar and is equal to 9.75 teaspoons of sugar (39 divided by 4 equals 9.75 teaspoons of sugar). It’s also important to pay close attention to the Servings Per Container.
So, to calculate the amount of sugar for 2 servings of this soda, multiply 39 grams of sugar by 2 which equals 78, then divide by 4 which equals 19.5. This means that 2 servings of a 12 ounce can of soda contains 19.5 teaspoons of sugar.
To put this in perspective, measure out 10 teaspoons of sugar into a 12 ounce glass to visually see how much sugar is in one can of cola.
Another way to know how much sugar we are consuming is to read the list of ingredients that is also found on the container label. Sugar is found naturally in some foods, like fructose in fruits or lactose in milk. However, if the leading ingredient is listed as High Fructose Corn Syrup then this simply means another form of sugar has been added in the product.
Consuming too much sugar can cause weight gain; may increase the risk of dying from heart disease; increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes; impairs the immune system to fight viruses, bacteria, and parasites; and increases the risk of developing cavities.
When thinking about sugar, remember that moderation is key. Here are some ways to consume less sugar:
• Set a sugar limit
• Track sugar consumption
• Replace refined sugars with natural sugars
• Recognize added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or molasses
• Limit intake of sugary drinks
To learn more about sugar, read sugar related articles, or find recipes, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at http://www.eatright.org/search?keyword=sugar. For more information about Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians, visit www.scpfhc.org or call 592-1131 ext. 4240.