World Diabetes Day: Sugar has a bitter-sweet reputation when it comes to health. All carbohydrate-containing foods, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy, include sugar. Complete meals including natural sugar are still beneficial for health - as plant foods contain fibre, essential minerals, and antioxidants, whereas dairy foods contain protein and calcium. However, various case studies suggest that excess consumption of sugar is linked to a number of ailments that can be avoided. Sugar delivers calories with no extra nutrients and, in the long term, can harm your metabolism. But how much sugar is too much? Is it safe to eat a small amount of sugar every day, or should you try to avoid it as much as possible? Here's all you need to know.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 2 teaspoons (10 grams) per day as overconsumption can cause or exacerbate various health problems. Sugars added to foods and drinks and sugars found naturally in honey, syrups, and unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, and purees should not exceed 5% of a person's daily caloric intake (calories). Adults should consume no more than 30-35 grams of free sugar each day. Children between the ages of 4 and 6 should consume no more than 19g of free sugars per day, while those between 7 and 10 should consume 24g. American Heart Association's (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar (36 grams or 150 calories) per day for Men & 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day for Women.
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Why Is Excess Sugar Bad For Health?
- Added sugar is devoid of essential nutrients and causes tooth decay.
- High sugar content in food significantly contributes to obesity which can lead to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
- Metabolising sugar is known to generate free radicals which, if produced in excess, can potentially cause cancer.
- Sugar is one of the major causes of obesity in both children and adults.
- Sugar raises cholesterol levels and contributes significantly to cardiovascular disease.
- It is also addictive as it causes massive dopamine release in the brain.
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How To Cut Sugar Intake In The Diet
- Try to get the majority of your calories from starchy foods (wholegrain), fruits and vegetables, for a healthy, balanced diet.
- Try substituting cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, vanilla, ginger, or lemon for sugar.
- Choose water, lower-fat milk, sugar-free diet, or no-added-sugar drinks instead of sugary fizzy drinks. While whole and low-fat milk contain the same sugar, choosing lower-fat milk reduces one's saturated fat intake.
- Try to be inventive and look for recipes online. Even without sugar, there is an endless variety of delicious foods!
- Stevia is also a natural, calorie-free sugar substitute that can be used in moderation.
Remember, added sugar in moderation is not be harmful. It is only when you consume sugar in excess that it poses a health risk. Always consult a qualified doctor or nutritionist before making any major changes to the diet.
About Author: Dr. Srinivasa P. Munigoti is Consultant Endocrinology at Fortis Hospital Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.