In scary news, a recent report from the CDC found that women consume an average of 13.2 percent of their total daily calories from added sugars. Just how bad is that really? Well, the American Heart Association recommends that women limit their sugar intake to no more than 100 calories per day, or less than six percent of your total calories. That’s just 25 grams of sugar. So yeah, you should probably cut back on all those sweets.
This study specifically looked at added sugar, which includes any sugar used as an ingredient in processed foods (like white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, etc). Unfortunately, nutrition labels don’t distinguish between this and the naturally occurring stuff—like that in fruit or lactose (found in milk). That said, it’s safe to assume that a soda or muffin that doesn’t contain any fruit or lactose gets all of it’s sweetness from added sugar, says Shanthy Bowman, PhD, nutritionist at the USDA Food Services Research Group.
To play it safe, steer clear of anything with a super-high sugar count—regardless of whether it’s added or not—especially if the first few ingredients are sources of sugar other than fruit or lactose, says Bowman.
Here’s the thing, though: It’s not just cookies and brownies that you need to eliminate from your diet. These surprising items pack a sweeter punch than you might think (to give you a point of comparison, a 12-ounce can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar, the same amount you’d find in nearly 10 sugar cubes):
Although a judge overruled the ban on large, sugary beverages that was supposed to go into effect in New York City today, the initiative still serves as a good wake-up call about just how much sugar you’re chugging each morning.
The regulation applies to any food service establishment regulated by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, including restaurants, food carts, delis, movie theaters, and stadiums. To prepare its customers, Dunkin’ Donuts has been passing out fliers explaining new policy changes designed to help the chain comply with the initiative.
If the proposed regulation had gone into effect this morning as planned, Dunkin’ customers would have had to add their own sugar and “flavor swirls” to large and extra-large hot drinks, as well as medium and large iced drinks. Translation: While you may not realize it, those coffee beverages typically come loaded with sugar—sometimes as much as 61 grams per drink, which puts them into the category of “sugary beverages with more than 25 calories per eight ounces” (anything that falls into that group would be sold in portions of 16 ounces or less, according to the proposal). Dunkin’ is by no means the only coffee shop guilty of overdoing it with the sweet stuff, though. A grande iced coffee at Starbucks contains 20 grams of sugar, a medium hot latte at Caribou Coffee contains 19 grams of sugar, and a medium premium roast iced coffee at McDonald’s has 30 grams of sugar.
The NYC DHMH estimates that if people cut back their sugary drink intake to one 16-ounce beverage every two weeks, the city’s population would collectively lose 2.3 million pounds over the course of a year.
Some experts doubt the ban will work since people can get around the restrictions fairly easily—they could just buy two 16-ounce sugary drinks, for example, says Brian Wansink, PhD, and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.
But others say that having to add sweetener to your own coffee will at least make consumers more aware of their sugar intake. “It’s really the first step to reduce sugar consumption,” says Lu Qi, MD, PhD, and assistant professor of genetic and nutritional epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
TELL US: Do you have a sugary coffee habit? Does the proposed ban make you rethink your java routine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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