A teaspoon of sugar makes the medicine go down…
Before you start reading this blog post, please understand that I am not advocating a certain way of eating nor telling you what to eat or not eat. However, by the end of this writing, you may draw your own conclusions from the information presented…
Have you seen the advertising yet for an upcoming documentary titled “That Sugar Film?” The movie is about a healthy, fit Australian filmmaker who uses himself as a 60 day test case for a low fat diet of “healthy” foods high in sugar content. Spoiler Alert: Within weeks he’s a train wreck and by the end of the test he’s on the edge of obesity and fatty liver disease. Even though he was following a supposed healthy diet, he was also eating large quantities of sugar in every meal so the outcome is predicable. What got my attention in a Fox News review was not the movie itself, but the line “The AHA’s daily recommendations for sugar consumption are 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.” My first thought was just how many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon? The answer is four grams equal one teaspoon of sugar. That means the American Heart Association recommends women limit their sugar intake to 24 grams and men to 36 grams.
My second thought was how the AHA came to this decision. Upon further research, I learned that they are following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines. In March 2014, WHO drafted recommendations on reducing sugar intake from 10% to 5% of daily energy intake or roughly 25 grams. The finalized guidelines are scheduled to release in 2014, although I suspect that WHO has greater priorities these days with the Ebola virus still taking a huge toll. Regardless of the official WHO document release date; it looks like even the authorities are moving in the right direction.
The third area that attracted my interest was what 25 grams of sugar might look like to someone who is already careful with their food. You may find it interesting to see just how quickly 25 grams can come and go in a day… even when only eating “good” food. This list of some of the more popular foods will give you an idea of where the sugar resides:
5 grams = 1.25 tsp sugar:
Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Kind Bar
7 grams = 1.75 tsp sugar:
Fresh Strawberries (one cup)
15 grams = 3.75 tsp sugar:
Fresh Blueberries (one cup)
16 grams = 4 tsp sugar:
Medjool Date – one date
29 grams = 7.25 tsp sugar:
Graeters Vanilla Ice Cream (half cup) (Relatively pure store bought brand… closest to Mother Moo’s or Carmelas “home made” ice creams)
31 grams = 7.75 tsp sugar:
100% Pure Cranberry Juice (one cup)
(The juices are listed because of their popularity for health benefits. Although it seems to me that the enormous quantity of sugar might just possibly be what makes them so popular. I’m just saying…)
48 grams = 12 tsp of sugar:
Kale-ribbean Breeze Jamba Juice (16 oz) (I fell for their marketing ploy of “healthy” smoothies… one time)
As I said in the beginning, I’m not advocating that you eat or not eat any specific foods. I simply found it fascinating to build a reference point to consider. It is my opinion that each person needs to eat the foods that create their own optimal heath and fitness and those foods will not be the same for everyone. Having said that, I also believe that sugar is not the best form of carbohydrate and even fruit can often be substituted with positive results. So, if you are struggling with your weight or health, it may be due in part to your choice of foods. Awareness is 9/10’s of the solution and just knowing how much sugar is optimal and how much is actually being eaten can help us all make better choices.