The holidays can be a tricky time for those with a sweet tooth, but according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine, everyone should be aware of the amount of added sugar they’re consuming year-round.
“The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day for women (about six teaspoons), and 150 calories of added sugar per day for men (about nine teaspoons).
While most people might not add this amount of sugar to their food, many foods come with the sugar already in the product, said Roberta Anding, registered dietitian with Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital.
Anding, who is also a sports dietitian, notes that the major sources of added sugars are sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and fruit punch.
“You might not consume those types of beverages, but don’t forget your lattes, hot chocolate and other beverages,” she said.
The dangers of consuming too much sugar can be weight gain, accumulation of visceral or belly fat and an increased desire for more sugar. The visceral or belly fat can be viewed as an endocrine organ, meaning it could cause inflammation and contribute to the development of diabetes and heart disease.
She notes that artificial sweeteners should also be used with caution as recent studies suggest they may alter the natural balance of bacteria in the gut.
When reading nutrition labels, Anding says to look for words such as cane syrup, sucrose, maltose, rice syrup, coconut sugar, dextrose, palm sugar and agave. To reduce sugars, she recommends saving sugar for desserts and avoiding sugar in beverages of all kinds.
“Start to downsize your portions. Take half of a dessert or share one with a family member. You can still have the sweet treat – just less of it,” she said.