Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sugar Sugar Sugar

Did you know that Americans consume at least 90 pounds of sugar per year? Roughly 1/4 pound of sugar or 30 teaspoons of sugar per day! It doesn't help that the first food Mother Nature intends for us to have is breast milk. This naturally sweetened first food for babies plays an intricate role in what is desired as humans. Babies have a natural tendency to gravitate towards sweetened drinks and foods which carries into childhood and then to adulthood.
There are two types of sugars: naturally occurring and added sugar.
Naturally occurring sugars can be found in foods such as dairy foods, starchy vegetables and fruits. Lactose is the type of sugar found in dairy foods and fructose is found in fruits. Fructose and lactose may not necessarily be mentioned on a food label, especially for those foods that do not come with labels.
How do you determine if there is added sugar in a product and
 not the naturally occurring sugar?
To determine if a product has added sugar look for these key words:
brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup,
dextrose,fructose,fruit juice concentrate,
cane juice, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup,
honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses,
raw sugar, sucrose, syrup and table sugar.
How much sugar is recommended in a child's diet?
The recommendation for naturally occurring sugar is not defined. This is because in naturally occurring sugar containing foods, there are likely other nutrients that balance out the sugar in the food such as fiber, whole grains, vitamins and minerals. These, naturally occurring sugars, much like nature made breast milk, are the natural and preferred way to provide sugar to a child.
The recommendation for added sugar in a child's diet is 7-12 teaspoons per day or 30-46 grams of sugar. One teaspoon is equivalent to 4 grams of sugar. This comes in handy when reading food labels. Foods that typically have added sugar include: sodas, candy, sweetened drinks, granola bars, sweetened cereals, desserts, sweetened yogurt, sweetened fruit snacks, jelly or jam, cereal bars, syrups. Reading labels is key to success with sugar tracking!
There are alternatives to added sugar those that include honey, agave nectar and maple syrup. Although these are natural they should still be limited. The key is moderation. The jury is still out on whether sugar causes hyperactivity, but if you have kids, you know that there is an effect when sugar is added to the wee ones diet. So think about what your child consumes and put it into perspective. Read labels and compare ingredients not all foods are the same. For those foods that do not have labels consider them better than those that do contain labels and incorporate them in a balanced way in your child's diet.
If you need more information on how many grams of sugar are in
foods that do not have labels check out Sugar
for more information.
 If you are wondering about the controversial high fructose corn syrup or sugar alcohols don't worry, we will discuss those over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

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