Sugar in the diet can occur naturally, such as from fruit (fructose and glucose) and milk (lactose) or it may be added to foods during preparation, processing, or at the table. It’s the added sugars in the diet we generally need to be concerned about.
How Many Grams of Sugar Per Day?
- One teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams.
- The average American adult consumes an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, which adds up to about 60 pounds of added sugar each year.
- American children consume even more — an average of 81 grams per day, which is over 65 pounds of added sugar per year.
How Much Sugar Is Safe?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommends that people two years and older limit sugar intake to less than 10% of total daily calories per day. This means in an adult who consumes a 2,000 calorie per day diet, no more than 200 calories (about 12 teaspoons, or 48 grams of sugar) should come from added sugars.
The American Heart Association goes further and recommends no more than 100 calories (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar) of added sugars per day for most women and no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar) of added sugars per day for most men.
What Are Added Sugars?
Added sugars are those added to foods during preparation, processing, or at the table. Added sugars may include:
- Table sugar
- Maple syrup
- Corn syrup
- High fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices
- Invert sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Turbinado sugar
- Raw sugar
- Brown sugar
- Agave nectar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Cane crystals
- Crystalline fructose
What Are Sources of Added Sugars?
The main sources of added sugars in the U.S. diet come from:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- Soft drinks
- Fruit drinks
- Sport and energy drinks
- Desserts and sweet snacks
- Cookies and brownies
- Ice cream and frozen dairy desserts
- Cakes and pies
- Doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries
- Coffee and tea
- Candy and sugars
- Breakfast cereals and bars
- Higher fat milk and yogurt
How Can I Avoid Added Sugars?
The Nutrition Facts Label, by law, must list the grams of sugar in each product, and it also must have a line disclosing “added sugars” to distinguish those from naturally occurring sources, such as fruits. It can also be difficult to tell how much sugar is in a product because there are often multiple sources of sugar with different names.
- A good rule of thumb: Avoid foods that list “sugar” as the first or second ingredient.
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