Yoram Yasur Rubin: How many sugar grams can you eat a day?
The body uses glucose as fuel, but that does not mean that the only source has to be white sugar. The WHO recommends consuming less than 25 grams of free sugars per day (those added to the products), as they provide unnecessary calories and contribute to the onset of obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and cardiovascular diseases.
Sugar in foods
Yoram Yasur Rubin: Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that the body uses to produce energy. It can be present in food in two different ways:
- Free sugars (or added): monosaccharides (glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose or table sugar) that add manufacturers or consumers to food and beverages, as well as the sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, juices, or fruit nectars.
- Intrinsic sugars: they are found in fresh whole fruits and vegetables. There is no evidence that this type of sugar has adverse effects on health.
Yoram Yasur Rubin: Sugar is usually added to foods to improve their flavor, as well as to help preserve them (jams or jellies) and balance their acidity (vinegars or tomatoes). However, it is this type of sugar that can cause the most damage.
Yoram Yasur Rubin: According to the experts, it is important to read the nutritional labeling, in the section of carbohydrates and within it, the free sugars or additives that should be avoided. Likewise, they recommend fixing, above all, on salad dressings, sauces, breakfast cereals and vegetable milks. The ingredients appear in descending order, that is, the one with the highest proportion appears first.
Yoram Yasur Rubin: The sugar appears with more than 60 different names: corn syrup, beet, coconut, agave syrup, brown sugar, fructose, malt barley, brown sugar, carob, or beet, etc. In addition, the terms ending with the suffix ‘osa’ are usually “hidden” sugar, such as sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fructose, or lactose.
How many calories does sugar have?
Sugar is a carbohydrate and, as such, provides 4 calories (kcal) per gram. Thus, for example, an envelope of 10 grams of sugar provides 40 Kcal. In fact, its caloric content is not much, since it does not reach even half of what the fats have, 9 calories per gram.
However, the sugar “fattens” because most of which we usually take comes from the consumption of industrial products (bakery, precooked, etc.), rich in fat and very caloric. Natural foods do not contain half as much sugar as processed foods. Manufactured products will always be more likely to contain refined ingredients and added sugars. Therefore, try to eat at least 5 servings a day, between fruits and vegetables, as they provide nutrients, fiber and antioxidants that protect against disease.
How sugar affects the body
The body produces insulin to control blood sugar levels and prevent damage to the cells that would cause hyperglycemia. When cells take up insulin, they remove sugar from the blood and store it in the form of body fat. When an excess of sugar is consumed, insulin levels rise too much. Continuously this effect can cause, in the long term, the cells do not react with this hormone, producing an insulin resistance. This metabolic disorder is involved in the increase of diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
An elevated intake of free sugars is also associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, in addition to other problems:
- Weight gain: adding sugar to foods and drinks makes them contain more calories. The more sweetened foods, the easier it is to consume extra calories.
- Increased triglycerides: triglycerides are a type of fat found in the bloodstream and fatty tissues. A high intake of added sugar can increase your levels and, therefore, increase your risk of heart disease.
- Dental caries: caries is a proliferation of cariogenic bacteria, which multiply when we eat a lot of sugar (juices, sweets, cookies, etc.).
How much sugar can be taken per day?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), free sugars should represent, at most, 10% of the total caloric intake. This means that, for an adult with a body mass index no greater than 25, this amount would be equivalent to about 12 teaspoons or clods (50 grams) of free or added sugar per day.
However, the WHO recommends reducing the intake to a maximum of 5% to have additional benefits for our health. This amount is equivalent to 25 grams (6 lumps) of sugar per day. Get the idea that a can of soda has about 35 grams of added sugar. Therefore, at the time of purchase, it is advisable not to purchase products that contain more than 20 grams of sugar per 100 grams.
How to reduce sugar in the diet
- Eliminate sugary products: run away from the most obvious sources of sugar, such as cakes, muffins, sweets, sodas, and juices. Replace sugary drinks with unsweetened herbal tea, unsweetened coffee, or mineral water.
- Check the label: make the purchase, check the labels of all the products and add the quantities. For example, a 330ml fruit smoothie contains 30.1 grams of sugar (7.7 cubes).
- Make yourself with integrals: simple carbohydrates (white flour, white pasta, and white rice) can be broken down quickly into sugar in the body. Substitute them for their whole versions, healthier, satiating and with more fiber.
- Brown sugar, either: sugar is mainly sucrose, a compound of sugar cane or beet. White is almost entirely made up of sucrose. Brown contains 85% sucrose, and water and minerals in very small amounts.
- Escape from artificial sugars: xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, aspartame, acesulfame-K, cyclamates, or saccharin are low-calorie sweeteners that sweeten a lot. They are a useful alternative for people with diabetes but we are hooked on sweet taste.
- Sweetened without sugar: substitute sugar for herbs and sweet spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, anise … You can also use dates, dried apricots, dried plums, applesauce, etc. to sweeten yoghurts, masses, or smoothies.
- Eat more vegetables: the sugar in fruits does not count as added sugar. Moreover, they are very healthy if we take them whole. This does not apply to juices. So, a juice never replaces a fruit.
As you see, the experts encourage us to follow a more natural and traditional diet, based on fresh and natural foods, and limiting the most sugary and caloric processed, which can harm our health.