What should your daily sugar intake be? After all, sugar is a substance that is almost unavoidable in our modern diets. Nowadays, sugar is not found naturally in nature, and is now found in man-made concoctions like high-fructose corn syrup. If you read the nutrition labels on most of your sweet-tasting foods, generally high-fructose corn syrup is the first ingredient! Your daily sugar intake should actually be a lot lower than you think. Ideally, you should keep your sugar less than 15 grams a day.
15 grams a day! That’s the amount of sugar in one cookie.
So why is sugar so bad? Well, the problem is in the substance known as fructose. Table sugar is sucrose, which is a combination of about 55% fructose and 45% glucose. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has almost replaced sugar entirely, is composed of about 60% fructose and 40% glucose. Though glucose is natural and in fact essential to human life, fructose is not! Fructose is a substance that is only found in small amounts like fruit and more recently, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
Sugar is not bad in moderation, but in overly excessive amounts is extremely dangerous. However, HFCS and sugar gives you the opportunity to consume fructose in highly excessive amounts. A 12 oz can of orange juice contains nearly 40 grams of sugar. This amount of sugar is the recommended sugar intake (whichis a lot higher than what you should really be consuming daily).
Fructose is associated with many problems like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. Unlike glucose, fructose causes insulin resistance which over time, causes diabetes. Glucose is used by every one of your cells and is therefore used up fairly quickly, causing a fairly quick insulin spike that goes away. Fructose, however, is stored as fat. Fructose also is associated with an increase in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol- I extensively wrote an article on this here ). So there- fructose is horrible for you. So why is it OK to eat fruit? Well, fruit has fiber, which holds back the insulin spike by slowing down metabolism.
So here are some things you can do to curb your daily sugar intake.
- Use Stevia: this is a non-insulin spiking sugar alternative which is completely natural (derived from the plant Stevia rebaudiana)
- Stop “drinking” your carbs- this means no soda, fruit juice and sweetened beverages
- Eat more fiber (leafy greens and vegetables) before eating your sugar to slow metabolism
- Instead of eating fructose rich fruits (I have written an article on Low Sugar Fruits) eat glucose rich vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes.
These should help you lower your sugar intake drastically. My number-one recommendation would be to stop drinking soda and sweetened beverages- including fruit juice! Remember, that it is really fructose that is bad for you. Fructose is directly associated with insulin resistance which is a dangerous condition. Remember, chances are, your sugar intake is probably too high, so making an effort to decrease it will contribute greatly to your health in the long run. Gustatory pleasure is only temporary, while health keeps you alive for far longer!