Food Rx: What You Need to Know About Added Sugars in Food
We’re so excited to introduce our newest series, Food Rx with Jessica DeLuise, PA-C, CCMS, a physician assistant and culinary medicine specialist. This monthly series will focus on the important role food plays in our overall health, plus we’ll be sharing kid-friendly recipes to add more fresh produce to your family’s diet.
Today, we’re talking all about added sugars in our food. Sugars in our diet can be naturally occurring or added. Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit (aka fructose) and milk (aka lactose). Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing, or that we add while cooking or preparing foods at home.
Removing added sugar from your diet from frozen treats and ice pops this summer.
Added sugar is defined as sweeteners ADDED to recipes and food items. This does not account for sugars found naturally in foods like sweet potatoes and fruits. Added sugar contributes to weight gain, obesity, and risk of insulin resistance. Sugar can also create mood changes by exciting the brain, leading to hyperactivity, followed by a compensatory “crash.”
How Much Added Sugar Should You Have?
According to the American Heart Association, here’s how much added sugar we should limit ourselves to:
- Children under 2 years: NO added sugar
- Children ages 2 -18: No more than 25 grams per day (which equate to 6 tsp. or 100 calories)
- Men, 18+: No more than 37.5 grams per day (which equate to 9 tsp. or 150 calories)
- Women, 18+: No more than 25 grams per day (which equate to 6 tsp. or 100 calories)
How to Identify Added Sugar in Foods
Added sugar can be found in a variety of foods, even the items that are thought to be healthy. On the label, added sugar is listed under many names such as high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, molasses, dextrose, cane sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and more than 50 others!
To gain some perspective on how much sugar the daily recommendation is, here are a few examples:
- 3/4 cup of Lucky Charms cereal – 10 grams added sugar
- 2 Chips Deluxe Rainbow Chocolate Chip Cookies – 10 grams added sugar
- 2 Nature Valley Bars (1 pkg) – 12 grams added sugar
- 1 cup Dannon vanilla yogurt – 12 grams added sugar
The Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake Ice Pops
When ice pops are homemade, YOU can control the ingredients that go into them. This includes leaving out added sugar and other processed ingredients like artificial colors and flavors. This recipe is yummy for adults AND kids! And seriously it cannot be easier!
- Blender or food processor
- Ice pop mold
- 6 oz. plain yogurt
- 1 cup chopped strawberries (or any fruit)
- 1 cup canned pumpkin (or any pureed veggie)
- ½ cup unsweetened milk
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
- Pour into ice pop molds and freeze overnight.
Disclaimer: Before making any health or diet changes, please consult your doctor. The information shared as part of Food Rx is meant to be informative but not replace medical advice from your doctor.