In 1900, most people consumed about 90 pounds of sugar each year. According to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) the average American now consumes approximately 156 pounds of sugar each year. The amount of sugar most people eat today, either by adding it directly to their diet or through processed foods, has skyrocketed during the last few generations. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) the recommended amount is about 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. The average American, however, consumes between 40 and 50 teaspoons of sugar each day. The following discusses the negative effects of excess sugar, how much sugar is in everyday foods, and how to remove it from our diet.
Negative Effects of Too Much Sugar
Everything from diabetes to obesity is increasingly being attributed to consuming too much sugar. Eating excessive sugar can even impair the immune system. Perhaps one of the most dramatic discoveries in recent years is that cancer literally feeds on sugar. Research from the journal Natural Medicine concluded that there is such an overwhelming link between sugar and cancer growth, that scanning for sugar accumulation in the body may be a prominent way to screen for cancer in the future. The fact that dextrose, glucose, and fructose are all types of sugar is confusing. The primary difference is how the body processes each of these sugars. Glucose, which is used by almost every cell in the body for energy, is burned up quickly after consumption. Fructose, which is an additive in processed foods and soda, is metabolized through the liver and is more readily stored as fat.
Everyday Foods and Sugar Content
When thinking of foods we eat that contain a lot of sugar everyone focuses on the usual culprits such as candy, soda, and many desserts. While it’s true that these items contain high amounts of sugar, there are other foods that pack quite a lot of sugar. Ketchup and peanut butter are two staples of the the American diet that are often loaded with sugar. Some ketchups have almost one teaspoon of sugar for every teaspoon of ketchup. If you think you’re avoiding sugar with a healthy breakfast and a big salad for lunch, you might want to think again. Salad dressing, yogurt, and cereals are often high in sugar content. Low fat salad dressing, as well as other low fat foods, is often loaded with extra sugar to improve the taste.
Removing Sugar from the Diet
The number one way to remove excess sugar from the diet is to eliminate soda and sweetened juices. Because there is little nutritional value in in these drinks they don’t satiate an individual, leaving the person constantly craving more. Cut back on cookies, candy, and all desserts. Fruits should be eaten fresh or frozen. Canned fruit in syrup is loaded with extra sugar. Dried fruits contain on average 50 to 80 percent sugar.