Being Healthy... Grams of Sugar

Sugar, it makes everything taste that much better!

In 2008 (according from data from the US), the average American consumed 60 pounds of sugar per year! To put this into (nutrition facts) perspective, 60 pounds equals 27215.5 grams. But this statistic covers the whole year, so it can't be that bad! 27215.5 grams of sugar averaged across a year is approximately 74.5 grams of sugar a day!

How much sugar should you be consuming to be healthy? According to American Heart Association, they recommend men get 9 teaspoons of sugar and women get 6 teaspoons of sugar. 1 teaspoon of sugar weights is about 4 grams, so men are allowed 36 grams of sugar a day and women are allowed 24 grams of sugar a day.

So how much sugar are you consuming? I took a look at the nutritional value of food around my home:

  1. Can of Sprite = 38 grams of sugar
  2. Grande "Caramel Frappuccino® Blended Beverage" = 64 grams of sugar
  3. Costco Orange Juice (8 fl oz)  =  21 grams of sugar
  4. Fage Total 0% (1 cup) = 9 grams of sugar
  5. Broccoli (3 oz) = 2 grams of sugar
  6. Horizon Organic 2% Milk (1 cup) = 13 grams of sugar
  7. Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Trail Mix Granola Bar (1 bar) = 12 grams of sugar
  8. Banana (7"-8") = 14 grams of sugar

Based on recommendations from the American Heart Association and the food items I have around the house, I suspect that I routinely exceed my allowed amount of daily sugar to be healthy. But the standard I hold myself is to get a good mix of all nutrition. Getting 10 grams of sugar from a fresh fruit (not canned) versus 10 grams of sugar from candy makes a big difference because I get a better mix of nutrition from fruit (including other vitamins and fiber). Note that many juices (like orange juice) have high sugar content, but have all the fiber striped away. In most cases, eat whole fruit is a much healthier way to eat sugar when compared to fruit juices.

And after thinking more about it, avoiding sugar is nearly impossible. The best way is to avoid all sorts of processed foods and sauces. Cook your own food (from raw ingredients) so you know exactly what goes into it. Sugar hides in many everyday items and does make food taste better.