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Too much sugar is not so sweet
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Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD and Penny Kris-Etheron, PhD, RD

Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University

Too much added sugar in your diet could significantly increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. According to a study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine (Yang Et. Al., 2014), most U.S. adults consumed more than 10% of their total calories from added sugar, and approximately 10% of adults consumed 25% or more of their calories from added sugar in 2005-2010. Those who consumed 17%-21% of calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality compared to those who consumed 8% of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21% or more of their calories from added sugar.

Sugars in your diet can be naturally occurring or added. Naturally occurring sugars are found in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added in foods during preparation and processing, or added at the table. The major sources of added sugar in the U.S. diet include: sugar-sweetened beverages (31.7%), grain-based desserts (13.7%), fruit drinks (8.9%), dairy desserts (6.1%) and candy (5.8%).

With the evidence of higher added sugar consumption and adverse health outcome accumulating, the American Heart Association recommends that total calories from added sugar should be less than 100 calories/day for most women, and less than 150 calories/day for most men. For the past decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that daily added-sugar consumption should be no more than 10% of total calories. In 2014, after conducting an in-depth periodic review, a WHO panel moved to halve that amount, recommending that just 5% of total calories come from added sugar. That amounts to about 25 grams of sugar (or 6 teaspoons)/day. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee encourages the consumption of healthy dietary patterns that are low in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. The goals for the general population are a maximum of 10% of total calories from added sugars/day.

Although the calories from added sugars declined between 1999-2000 and 2007-2008, consumption of added sugars still remains high. American eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar/day according to a report from the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database. Teens and men consume the most added sugars. Average daily consumption for men: 335 calories; women: 230 calories; boys: 362 calories; girls: 282 calories.

Decreasing sugar-sweetened beverages and other sugary foods like candy and junk food are easy ways to reduce sugar intake. However, there is plenty of sugar hiding in foods where you may not expect it:

-Pasta sauces


-Condiments (e.g., raspberry vinaigrette, French dressing and Catalina dressing)


-Dried fruit

-Granola bars

Presently, the Nutrition Facts label does not list added sugars. However, the proposed new label is expected to list added sugars so that healthy point-of-purchase decisions can be made. The new Nutrition Facts label will be helpful for limiting intake of added sugars. Other steps include: replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with a low calorie version or with water, and replacing grain-based desserts with fruits and vegetables.

Check out the fruit and vegetable recipes below!

Sweet potato custard

Tropical fruits with pistachios and coconut 






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