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Male daily sugar intake

Added Sugar | The Nutrition Source

The Nutrition Source

Your body doesn’t need to get any carbohydrate from added sugar. That’s why the Healthy Eating Pyramid says sugary drinks and sweets should be used sparingly, if at all, and the Healthy Eating Plate does not include foods with added sugars.

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon

Keep this tip in mind when reading nutrition labels to better visualize just how much added sugar the product contains. For example, one 12-ounce can of cola contains 39 grams–almost 10 teaspoons of sugar!

The average American adult, teenager, and child consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or about 270 calories. [1] While we sometimes add sugar or sweeteners like honey to food or beverages, most added sugar comes from processed and prepared foods. The leading sources of added sugars in the U.S. diet are sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, and sweet snacks like ice cream, pastries, and cookies. [1] Less obvious yet significant contributors are breakfast cereals and yogurt.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 advise that all Americans 2 years and older limit added sugars in the diet to less than 10% of total calories. For a 2,000 calorie/day diet, that translates into 200 calories or 50 grams of sugar daily (about 12 teaspoons of sugar). Toddlers and infants younger than 2 years should not be given solids or beverages with any added sugars. [1]

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that Americans drastically cut back on added sugar to help slow the obesity and heart disease epidemics. [2]

  • The AHA suggests a stricter added-sugar limit of no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams) for most adult women and no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar) for most men.
  • The AHA also recommends a lower daily limit of added sugars for children ages 2-18 to less than 6 teaspoons or 24 grams per day, and sugary beverages should be limited to no more than 8 ounces a week. [3] For more info, visit Healthy kids ‘sweet enough’ without added sugars.
Spotting sugar on a food label

Spotting added sugars in processed foods is easier since the rollout of the updated Nutrition Facts label. Previously, food and beverage manufacturers in the U.S. were required to list a product’s total amount of sugar per serving on the label, but did not need to disclose how much of that was from added sugars versus naturally occurring. This was confusing for foods such as plain unsweetened milk or yogurt that listed 12 grams or more of “Sugars,” but all of which was naturally occurring lactose sugar. Lactose does not impact blood glucose or carry the same health risks as white “table” sugar and other caloric sweeteners.

The updated Nutrition Facts label now lists both “Total Sugars” and underneath “Added Sugars.” The percent Daily Value (DV) for added sugars is based on the recommended limit from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans of less than 50 grams a day (about 12 teaspoons) for an average 2,000 calorie diet. The percent DV will vary: a lower amount for a lower-calorie diet, and higher for a higher-calorie diet. The DV can be an easy way to compare food products for added sugars:

  • 5% DV or less of added sugars per serving is considered low
  • 20% DV or more of added sugars per serving is considered high

Ingredient list

  • Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, so where sugar is listed in relation to other ingredients can indicate how much sugar a particular food contains.
  • Added sugars go by many different names, yet they are all a source of extra calories.

Food makers can also use sweeteners that aren’t technically sugar—a term which is applied only to table sugar, or sucrose—but these other sweeteners are in fact forms of added sugar. Below are some other names for sugar that you may see on food labels:

Agave nectar Dextrose Maltose
Brown sugar Evaporated cane juice Malt syrup
Cane crystals Fructose Maple syrup
Cane sugar Fruit juice concentrates Molasses
Coconut sugar Glucose Raw sugar
Corn sweetener High-fructose corn syrup Sucrose
Corn syrup Honey Syrup
Crystalline fructose Invert sugar

Key Sources of Added Sugar

Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks are a prime source of extra calories that can contribute to weight gain and provide no nutritional benefits. Studies indicate that liquid carbohydrates such as sugar-sweetened beverages are less filling than solid food, causing people to continue to feel hungry after drinking them despite their high calories. [4] They are coming under scrutiny for their contributions to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. [5]

  • The average 20-ounce bottle of sugar-sweetened soda, lemonade, or iced tea contains about 65 grams of added sugar, often from high-fructose corn syrup. That’s the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of table sugar.
  • If you were to drink just one 12-ounce can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day, and not cut back on calories elsewhere, you could gain up to 15 pounds over three years. [6]

Be careful to read serving sizes of bottled beverages. Many are sold in 20-ounce bottles, but what is considered one serving of that beverage may still vary among manufactures. For example, a popular cola drink may list the whole 20-ounce bottle as one serving containing 65 grams of added sugar. Another 20-ounce bottle of lemonade may seem a better choice, showing only 27 grams of added sugar per serving—but the label states that one bottle contains 2.5 servings! Therefore, guzzling the whole bottle would give you almost 68 grams of sugar.

To reduce some confusion, the updated Nutrition Facts label mandates that manufacturers list serving sizes based on what people typically consume, rather than how much they should consume. The “typical” beverage serving is now considered 12 ounces (increased from 8 ounces), so hopefully in the near future all beverage labels will list the same standard serving size.

Cereals and other foods

Choosing minimally processed breakfast foods—such as whole grain toast with nut butter, or a bowl of steel-cut or old-fashioned oatmeal—that don’t have lengthy ingredient lists is a great way to avoid added sugars. Unfortunately, many common breakfast foods such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, cereal bars, instant oatmeal with added flavoring, and pastries can contain high amounts of added sugars.

Some ingredient lists mask the amount of sugar in a product. To avoid having “sugar” as the first ingredient, food manufacturers may use multiple forms of sugar—each with a different name—and list each one individually on the nutrient label. But don’t be fooled; your body metabolizes all added sugars the same way as it doesn’t distinguish between “brown sugar,” “molasses,” “honey,” and other caloric sweeteners. When reading a label, make sure to spot all sources of added sugars even if they’re not listed as the first few ingredients.

Also be careful of foods that wear a “health halo.” For example, one popular cereal advertises that it contains whole grains, fiber, and several antioxidant vitamins like C, E, and beta-carotene. But it also contains 18 grams of added sugar (4.5 teaspoons) in just one small bowl. Keep in mind serving sizes as well. A crunchy granola bar may contain two bars per pack; just one provides 6 grams of added sugar but if the whole pack is eaten, that number doubles to 12 grams. So you can see how added sugars may add up quickly!

Bottom Line

The body does not need carbohydrates from added sugars to function. A good rule of thumb is to avoid products that have a lot of added sugar, including skipping foods that list “sugar” as the first or second ingredient. However, the products may use a variety of sweeteners so be sure to scan the full ingredient list. Fortunately, the updated Nutrition Facts label in the U.S. now features a separate line for “added sugar” so it easier to know just how much is added versus naturally occurring.

Some tips for reducing added sugar intake:

  • Choose plain yogurt with no added sugar and stir in fresh or frozen fruit or unsweetened applesauce and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Choose cereals with 5% of the Daily Value or less of added sugars and add sliced ripe banana or berries.
  • Choose water, seltzer, herbal tea, coffee and other beverages with no added sugar. Add a slice of orange, lemon, lime, or cucumber for a subtle flavor boost.
  • When a sweets craving hits, try one of these first: 1/4 cup of unsweetened dried fruit; 1 cup of ripe fresh fruit; or a 1-ounce square of 75% dark chocolate.
  • When baking, reduce the amount of added sugar by 1/4-1/3 cup. Or reduce the sugar by substituting half the amount with unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe banana; for example, instead of 1 cup of sugar, use ½ cup sugar and ½ cup mashed fruit.
  • If you choose to enjoy a favorite treat high in sugar, practice eating a smaller portion than usual. Enjoy it fully by chewing slowly and savoring it.
  • Your taste buds can adjust to sweetness levels! As you consistently reduce your total sugar intake, you may notice your sweets cravings lessen or that certain foods now taste too sweet.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get the Facts: Added Sugars Accessed 2/4/2022.
  2. Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, Howard BV, Lefevre M, Lustig RH. American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism and the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009 Sep 15;120(11):1011-20.
  3. Vos MB, Kaar JL, Welsh JA, Van Horn LV, Feig DI, Anderson CA, Patel MJ, Cruz Munos J, Krebs NF, Xanthakos SA, Johnson RK. Added sugars and cardiovascular disease risk in children: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017 May 9;135(19):e1017-34.
  4. Pan A, Hu FB. Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and solid food. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. 2011 Jul 1;14(4):385-90.
  5. Malik VS, Hu FB. The role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the global epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 2022 Jan 21:1-4. *Disclosure: V.S.M. is on a pro bono retainer for expert support for litigation related to sugar-sweetened beverages and has served as a consultant for the City of San Francisco for a case related to health warning labels on soda.
  6. Malik VS, Hu FB. Fructose and cardiometabolic health: what the evidence from sugar-sweetened beverages tells us. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2015 Oct 6;66(14):1615-24.

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The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.

How much sugar is too much?

As modern grocery shoppers, we try to be engaged and knowledgeable about nutrition. From salt to sugar, the movement is on to regain control of what we put on the table. But there’s a lot of confusing information to wade through. Studies show that 80% of shoppers come across conflicting nutritional data and 59% doubt the choices they’re making for their families. What consumers aren’t confused about, though, is the need for a healthy change.

American adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, more than 3 times the recommended amount for women. This adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar annually – that’s six, 10-pound bowling balls, folks! The numbers are even worse for children. American kids consume 81 grams per day, equaling over 65 pounds of added sugar per year. Think of it this way – children are ingesting over 30 gallons of added sugars from beverages alone. That’s enough to fill a bathtub! Where’s all this added sugar coming from?

Beverages are the leading category source of added sugars (47% of all added sugars):

  • soft drinks – 25%
  • fruit drinks – 11%
  • sport/energy drinks – 3%
  • coffee/tea – 7%

And, as you might guess, snacks and sweets are the next biggest contributor of added sugars at 31%.

How does the body react to so much sugar?

So, what’s a smart shopper to do? It’s tempting to look to alternative sugars as a magical solution. Products made with honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or turbinado sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and dextrose, for example, are perceived as healthier choices. Don’t be fooled.  Your body sure isn’t! Too much sugar is too much, no matter the source.

It all comes down to how fast the sugars get absorbed. For example, your body spends more time digesting an apple because of the fiber content, so the natural sugar absorbs more slowly. On the flip side, the added sugar in soda arrives all at once in your system like a sugar bomb. All that extra sugar gets converted to calories much more quickly. Not so good for your system!

If you’re looking for no calories, your best option might be a plant-based sweetener like stevia or monk fruit. These sweeteners are “generally recognized as safe” based on published research, a conclusion which has been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

AHA Sugar Recommendation

To keep all of this in perspective, it’s helpful to remember the American Heart Association’s recommendations for sugar intake.

  • Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day.
  • For women, the number is lower: 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day. Consider that one 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar!  There goes your whole day’s allotment in one slurp.

The good news is that the added-sugar message is breaking through, and many American adults crave a change. In fact, research suggests that 77 percent of Americans are striving for less sugar in their diets. And 7 in 10 consumers are willing to give up a favorite sugary product in favor of finding a healthier alternative. The willingness is there. For now, your best defense is education.

Food manufacturers are required to list the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label by mid 2021 or earlier depending on the size of the company.   A recent analysis found that this labeling could potentially prevent nearly 1 million cases of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes over the next two decades.  Listing the total amount of added sugars means that consumers will no longer have to search through the many different aliases for added sugars to try and determine how much added sugar a food or drink contains.

So, read those labels carefully and realize that added sugar is added sugar, no matter what sneaky alias it’s using! 

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

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What kind of sugar is harmful and useful, in what quantities can it be consumed?

For normal life, a person does not need refined sugar. This product is the most harmful food additive. It supplies the body with empty calories. That is, no valuable nutrients are supplied with it.

Over time, excessive sugar consumption can adversely affect metabolism, lead to excess weight and such unpleasant consequences as obesity, diabetes, heart and vascular disease. But this does not mean that he should be completely excluded from your life. The main thing is not to use it in quantities exceeding the allowable daily norms.

Which sugar is harmful to health?

Sugar added to food and originally found in vegetables and fruits are two completely different substances. The white crystalline powder that we used to put in tea is harmful. Foods containing natural sugars are healthy. Together with them, a huge amount of valuable nutrients enter the body: vitamins, minerals, fiber, proteins, fats.

Sugars are needed for the normal functioning of the body. Glucose is broken down in the human body and used as the main source of energy. It covers about 80% of energy costs. If an excess of glucose enters the bloodstream, then it is sent to the liver, where it is converted into glycogen - a reserve source of energy. As needed, it is again broken down to glucose and delivered to the bloodstream. In addition, glucose normalizes the functioning of the liver, increases the production of the hormone of joy serotonin, nourishes the brain tissue and thus improves the intellectual abilities of a person.

Attention! Conclusion: you can’t give up sugar, but it’s better to consume it not in its pure form, but as part of vegetables and fruits - then both weight and health will remain normal for many years.

How much sugar can you eat?

Calorie content of sugar eaten per day by an adult should not exceed 5% of the total calories in the diet. The energy value of 1 g of the product is 4 kcal.

Sugar consumption rates in grams and teaspoons:

  • Men - 37.5 g or 7.5 tsp.
  • Women - 25 g or 5 tsp.
  • Child under 3 years - 12.5 g, or 2.5 tsp.
  • Children under 8 years - 15 g or 3 tsp.
  • Girls under 13 - 20 g or 4 tsp.
  • Boys under 13 - 22.5 g or 4.5 tsp.
  • Adolescent females - 22.5 g, or 4.5 tsp.
  • Male adolescents - 25 g, or 5 tsp.

Hidden sources of sugar

Keep in mind that sugar is found in some foods. Avoid sugary soft drinks, juices, sweets, pastries, confectionery, canned fruits in syrup, low fat foods. In the composition of the product, sugar may be hidden under such names as sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, syrup.

Attention! Harmful refined sugar can be replaced with healthy sweeteners. Excellent alternatives are natural honey without added sugar, stevia.


Please note that all information posted on the site Prowellness is provided for informational purposes only and is not a personal program, a direct recommendation for action, or medical advice. Do not use these materials for diagnosis, treatment, or any medical procedure. Consult your physician before using any technique or using any product. This site is not a specialized medical portal and does not replace the professional advice of a specialist. The Site Owner is not liable to any party who has suffered indirect or direct damage as a result of misuse of materials posted on this resource.

Expert: Ekaterina Podvalenchuk Expert in nutrition and health

Reviewer: Ekaterina Vorobieva Adept of a healthy and active lifestyle

Lipetskaya Rosinka

The easiest way to get energy is to consume sugar. Many modern food products that we find on the shelves in stores contain sugar. Even the most unexpected ones. Bananas and apples contain natural sugar. Bread and sauces - added.

Is sugar a source of energy or a problem?

Excessive consumption of sugar is fraught with excess weight and not only. For example, if you use it without restrictions, you can earn serious problems with the heart and blood vessels. Sugar turns an ordinary person into an insulin-dependent person and nourishes the body's cancer cells. Its constant absorption affects the mood and condition of the skin. Thus, sweet teeth are prone to depression, acne, and even early aging of the whole organism. Sugar may contribute to the development of multiple sclerosis, according to new research.

Choosing a sweetener?

Definitely not. The body has to produce insulin to process artificial sugar. There is nothing to break down, which means that insulin is taken for the available sugar in the blood and its level drops sharply. The digestive tract is preparing to receive carbohydrates, but it will be disappointed - they are not. All diet drinks have 0 calories and the same amount of carbohydrates. The body believes that you have eaten something bad and incomprehensible and launches a rescue operation. So, next time it will produce glucose in a triple volume. There is no doubt that the entire excess will be deposited in fat. And you can get yourself a lot of problems with metabolic disorders in the body.

What he drank, what he listened to the radio

Sweet diet drinks leave us hungry. Not only do we not give the body any benefit, we deceive it and feed it with empty calories.

Saccharin, cyclamate and similar sweeteners adversely affect the hormonal balance and disrupt it if consumed continuously. There is no benefit in sweeteners, they are always chemicals, the total harm of which has not even been fully studied yet. They just destroy the body, period.

WHO is still there: how much sugar IS POSSIBLE?

The daily intake of sugar that does not contradict the WHO standards is 60 grams for women, 80 for men. Up to 15 teaspoons per day. Nevertheless, without noticing it, we eat 30-40 teaspoons of sugar.

Taxes on sugar are introduced for food and beverage manufacturers in developed countries. The World Health Organization dictates its own rules, which are violated by many manufacturers. Safe dosage of sugar - 50-80 kg / 1000l. In soda, on average 110 kg, in energy drinks - 130 kg, in milkshakes - 140. Nestea tea contains 47-60 kg of sugar per 1000 l (depending on the type of tea). The choice of a healthy drink is obvious. In addition, it contains no preservatives and no artificial additives.

A LOT of sugar here

Ketchup contains 1 teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon. In a standard bottle of sports nutrition - 8 teaspoons, and in granola as many as 6 spoons of just something per 100 grams of product. A large glass of cappuccino with syrup contains up to 25 teaspoons of sugar - and this is a victory among hot drinks.

The worst thing is that sugar is put where you don't expect it at all.

Learn more

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