When thinking about healthier eating, we don’t typically think of sweets. Sugar has gotten such a bad reputation, but it is important to set the record straight about what and how much sugar is okay to have in our glass, bowl, or plate.
First, let’s distinguish between natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars are those that naturally occur in foods. Fruits and vegetables contain sugar in the form of fructose, glucose, and sucrose. Dairy foods such as milk contain lactose, and grains contain maltose. When you think about all these foods, they are very high in nutritional value and health benefits…and contain natural sugars.
The type of sugar we are most concerned about are the sugars that get added to foods and beverages during processing and packaging. You can tell if they have been added by looking at the ingredient label for brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, honey, dextrose, malt sugar, invert sugar, molasses, or raw sugar. Too much added sugar may create health concerns such as increased risk for dental cavities, increased weight, elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lower HDL (good cholesterol), and an increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.
HOW MUCH SUGAR IS TOO MUCH?
It is recommended that added sugars are limited to about 25 grams of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for children. That means you want to look at the nutrition facts panel to see the amount of added sugar per serving as well as the ingredients list that will show you sources of sugar in the product.
There is no reason to give up sugar altogether but try to stick to the natural sugars to help your kids health be its best.
Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, is the Dietary & Nutrition Strategic Advisor at Dari® and MOO’V™ milk. With over two decades of experience, she is an expert in nutrition with many of Leslie’s blog posts center around active eating and fueling for sport. She is the Head Nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs and has been a consulting sports dietitian in the NFL, MLB, and NHL, and worked with Olympic athletes. Bonci has co-authored three books with an active eating focus, is a blogger for US News Eat + Run, and is a sought-after expert for television, radio, print and online media, Bonci speaks regularly on topics including “sciensationalism,” “fuels of engagement” and “communication with conviction” to help influencers and consumers debunk the junk and separate fact from fallacy.