American Heart Association Recommends Daily Limit on Added Sugar

August 24, 2009

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By Shahreen Abedin

MONDAY, Aug. 24, 2009 (Health.com) — If you’re like most Americans, you will consume 22 teaspoons, or 355 calories, of added sugar today. Now, the American Heart Association (AHA) would like you to cut back dramatically.

For the first time, the group has issued guidelines that say most women should consume no more then 6 teaspoons (about 100 calories or 25 grams) of added sugar daily, and most men no more than 9 teaspoons (about 150 calories or 37.5 grams).

But here’s the tricky part: Added sugar not only includes the white table sugar you might spoon into a cup of coffee or a bowl of cereal, but also sugar added to food and drinks before you even purchase them. Added sugar is commonly found in soft drinks, candy, cakes, and cookies (though it lurks in many types of food, including some yogurts and even granola.)

Some of the most common added sugars are corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, and syrup. In contrast, the most common naturally occurring sugars are fructose and lactose, found in fruit and dairy products, respectively.

The new guidelines were published Monday in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The primary pitfalls of added sugars, according to lead author Rachel Johnson, are that they deliver empty calories and they tend to replace other nutrient-rich foods in our diet. “Because most of us lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, the food we do eat needs to be packed with nutrients,” says Johnson, who is a registered dietitian and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont, in Burlington.

Next page: How to tell if food has added sugar


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