Should we be reducing the sugar in our diets?
In 1800 the average person consumed 5 lbs of sugar per year, today figures show that on average this amount has increased to 90 lbs per year for Canadians!
How has this increase in sugar consumption affected our health?
Sugar is naturally found in many foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts and legumes, but it is the hidden added sugars in our diets that cause so many health issues.
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that no more than 10% of our daily calories come from free (added) sugars while less than 5% would be preferable.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada indicates that currently Canadians are consuming in excess of 13% of their diet from free sugar and that by reducing this amount to be in line with recommendations from the WHO we could reduce adverse health effects including, heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure and more.
It is a challenge for us to reduce our free sugar intake when we continue to eat processed foods. Sugar is hidden in many of these foods, even those we deem “healthy” (think yogurt, snack bars, protein bars).
So based on WHO recommendations we should be eating no more than 50 grams (13.5 tsps) of sugar and for improved health less than 25 grams or 6 tsp of sugar.
With the North American diet filled with processed foods this becomes very difficult and with the more than 50 different names for sugar, you need to be a detective to successfully read labels to determine sugar content. However, a good rule of thumb when reading labels: If there are more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, treat the product as a dessert!
Let’s take a closer look at just one example. We have been led to believe that yogurt is a healthy snack option and when we go into the grocery store we are faced with a wall of yogurt products. When we begin to take a closer look at the labels you will soon see that some of these options have as much sugar as a can of Coke, and choosing a low fat option could result in an even higher sugar content.
Take a look at this article Yogurts With More Sugar Than a Twinkie for some eye-opening examples. Check out the label on your favourite yogurt and see how it stacks up.
As consumers we need to be very diligent in checking labels if we want to control our sugar consumption and whenever possible stick to whole food options where we can control the amount of sugar.
Take a look at this youtube video that discusses what sugar does to your body...
Are you ready to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet? These links will provide you with great tips and first steps to reduce sugar intake.. Your health will thank you!