Did you know that Americans consume 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day - which means sugar that doesn't naturally occur in foods? That's more than twice what they should be eating! Teens eat a whopping 34 teaspoons - that's three-quarters of a cup of sugar. That's incredibly unhealthy - excess sugar has been linked to high cholesterol and obesity. What else does it do? Let's see if you can correctly answer these true-false questions from RealAge.com:
- True or False? Most of the sugar we eat is from sweets. That's false: The biggest culprits are Soda and fruit drinks, but a lot of the sugar we get comes from things we don't even think are sugary: like breakfast cereal, ketchup, and flavored yogurt. For example, one fruit flavored yogurt or one can of regular soda will put you at your limit for the day.
- True or False? Sugar causes type 2 diabetes. Not exactly true: Type 2 diabetes develops from eating too much of anything, including sugar. After you eat, your body breaks down all foods into glucose, which it burns for energy. However, too much food turns into too much glucose. That causes your pancreas to crank out mega-doses of insulin, which eventually makes your cells unable to use insulin properly, and causes sugar to pile up in your bloodstream instead of fueling your cells.
- Another True-False question: Sugar causes heart disease. That's true: Too much sugar raises your levels to unhealthy blood fats known as triglycerides - which your liver repackages as fat and dumps into your bloodstream, where it clogs up your arteries.
- Eating lots of sugar raises your cancer risk. That's true: Swedish researchers found that people who ate a diet high in sugar were 70 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Swigging lots of soda nearly doubled their odds. Doctors believe that frequent, large doses of sugar are toxic to your cells, and cause the damage that can lead to cancer.
Bottom line: You can't avoid sugar, but limit your daily total to 30 grams - or about eight teaspoons. So, how can you tell how many calories in your diet come from sugar? Read the label and multiply each gram by four. So, if a serving of granola has 15 grams of sugar - that's 60 sugar calories. Here's another clue for those food labels: Look for ingredients ending in "-ose", like dextrose, sucrose, and fructose. Also watch out for ingredients like molasses, any kind of syrup, corn sweetener, honey, fruit juice concentrate, and evaporated cane juice. If you see those words, put the package back on the supermarket shelf!