If fat was the star dietary villain for the past few decades, sugar is quickly stepping up to take its place. The sweet stuff figures prominently in the recent documentary Fed Up. There are websites, such as I Quit Sugar, devoted to eliminating sugar from the diet. And several books published this year chronicle or advocate similar nutritional journeys, including Year of No Sugar — which recounts a family’s quest to rid their lives of added sugars — and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, written by Dr. Mark Hyman, who just so happens to advise the Clinton family on matters of healthy eating.
In this week’s news: Mondays get even more meatless; the world learns what happens when a household bans sugar (hint: a book deal); and coupon-clipping takes a healthier turn.
Hitting the Beach — and the Tofu
Why book Canyon Ranch when you can visit Grandma in Boca? Earlier this week, the Florida city announced that it was joining Meatless Mondays – a national movement that advocates exactly what the name suggests. The logic is this: Research suggests that when you eliminate a day’s worth of meat, you’re cutting 15 percent of saturated fat intake. That, in turn, may decrease your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Twenty percent of Boca Raton’s residents are 65 or older, and with role models like Bill Clinton, whose health swami — Mark Hyman — was featured in the New York Times earlier this week, it might not be a surprise that the trend caught on.
No More Sweet Talk
Studies have associated sugar with everything from headaches to heart disease, and yet most of us still get 18% of our total caloric intake from the stuff. That’s about 22 teaspoons each day. Here in the United States, nutritionists have long lobbied to coax us down to about 10%. But the international community is taking an even harder line. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) brought its recommendation down to 5%, or about 100 calories per day. The recommendation is yet another strong case for transparent food labels, but until the new ones come out, here’s a crib sheet for some of the most sugar-stuffed packaged foods: Ketchup, salad dressing, soup, crackers, flavored yogurt, spaghetti sauce, bread, frozen dinners, granola, protein bars, shakes and (yep!) sushi.
In this week’s nutrition news: There’s no sugar-coating a new study on heart disease; scientists back every mom who has ever nagged about breakfast; and — who cares? — most people don’t believe a word of dietary advice, anyway.
Heartbreak for Sugar Lovers
A new study released this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine found that sugar fiends may be in for more heart trouble than they realize. The study observed an association between higher sugar consumption and risk of death from heart disease. But added sugar isn’t found only in sweet foods like soda, cakes and ice cream. Researchers cautioned that savory foods like salad dressing also contain added sugars.
It may not surprise anyone that a 20-ounce bottle of soda can contain anywhere from 15 to 22 teaspoons of sugar per serving, but sugar is also lurking in less obvious places. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines suggest no more than 10 teaspoons a day of added sugar, but if you’re not paying attention, those spoonfuls can add up fast. Here are 5 sources of sugar found in seemingly healthy choices.
Many people are addicted to sugar, even if they don’t realize it. Sugar is hidden in cereal, bread and sauces. It’s poured into desserts, soda and coffee drinks. It lurks in processed foods in many forms (syrups, cane juice, fructose and turbinado, to name just a few). Consuming all of this sugar increases our desire for it, as evidenced by research demonstrating how sugar activates the brain’s reward systems much the way drugs do.
Kick the Artificial Habit
Research suggests that folks who consume large amounts of artificial sweeteners may increase their likelihood to crave other sweet foods and pack on the pounds. Trying to cut back on sugar? Then cut back on the faux sugars too.
A: Simply . . . no, all sugars are not created equal. But learning how to identify the different types is where it gets complicated.
Whether it’s run-of-the-mill granulated white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or something that sounds fancier, such as turbinado or raw sugar – these are all sweeteners. These ingredients are added to foods as they are processed or prepared. The distinct flavor and degree of sweetness will vary, but no matter which type you’re dealing with, these sweeteners are a pure source of carbohydrate and have about 15 calories per teaspoon. When hefty doses of these types of added sugars are eaten, it can lead to weight gain and poorly controlled blood sugar levels.
The most significant sources of added sugar in the American diet are baked goods, candy, ice cream, soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.
This country is on a never-ending sugar high! We consume over three times the daily recommended amount of added sugar each day. One easy way to drop your sugar intake is to skip the sugary mixes and bottled beverages and take control of how much sugar’s in your drinks.
The American Heart Association recommends that women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of sugar each day, while men shouldn’t eat more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories). Studies reveal that we’re overindulging on added sugar, consuming 475 calories of added sugar every day.
Close to 40% of added sugar comes from sugary drinks like soda, sports and energy drinks, according to published data in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A 16-fluid ounce container of a sports drink has 7 teaspoons of added sugar (105 calories) while the same amount of soda has over 12 teaspoons of added sugar (180 calories). Energy drinks are full of added sugar too, with an 8.3 fluid ounce can of a popular brand containing 6.5 teaspoons (98 calories).