Tag Archives: Natural Sugars

Sugar hidden in your meals

The American Heart Association has set guidelines for the recommended daily amount of added sugar in our diets: women: 6 teaspoons = 25 grams (gm) of sugar and men: 9 teaspoons = 36 gm.

Susan Locke

Susan Locke

If we are not careful, we can easily exceed this number on a daily basis. This puts us at risk for obesity, heart disease or diabetes. Let’s take a look at some common meals and their accompanying sugar amounts.

58-Gram Breakfast
1 packet maple brown sugar oatmeal: 13 gm
Drizzle of honey: 11 gm
1 tbsp French vanilla coffee creamer: 5 gm
1 cup vanilla almond milk: 16 gm ¾ cup
Honey Nut Cheerios: 13 gm

Think granola is healthier? A ½ cup of Quaker Oats Granola, has 13 gm of sugar. Who can stop at a ½ cup?

30-Gram Lunch
1 PBJ sandwich: 18 gm
6 oz. plain low fat yogurt: 12 gm

Beware of yogurt with added fruit on the bottom; they can have up to a whopping 19 gm per cup.

24-Gram Lunch
1 bowl Subway tomato basil soup: 8 gm
6-inch Subway sweet onion chicken teriyaki sandwich: 16 gm

Canned soups sometimes contain added sugar as a preservative to extend their shelf life, and you might find up to 15 grams of sugar per 1½ cup in certain varieties.

24-Gram Dinner
2 tbsp. French dressing on salad: 6 gm
1½ cup cheese tortellini pasta: 2 gm
¾ cup tomato sauce: 16 gm

Some salad dressings contain 4 gm of sugar per tablespoon. Light or fat-free varieties will use sugar to make up for the flavor lost by cutting out fat.

Tomato sauces often contain sugar to cut the acidic taste and to keep jarred sauces fresh for a longer period. You might find up to 12 gm hiding in a ½ cup serving.

25-Gram Dinner
2 tbsp. barbecue sauce/grilled chicken: 16 gm
¼ cup glazed walnuts on salad: 9 gm

Sugar can sneak up on you in bread too, with some varieties containing up to 2 gm of sugar per slice (and that includes some whole wheat breads).

Snacks and Drinks
1 store bought granola bar: 7 gm
½ cup vanilla ice cream: 19 gm
1 blueberry muffin: 38 gm
1 handful dried cranberries: 29 gm
12 oz. serving Coke: 39 gm
1 cup hot cocoa: 24 gm
1 bottle Snapple peach tea: 39 gm
Pumpkin spice latte w/ whole milk: 39 gm

SUSAN LOCKE is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.

HEALTHNETWORK is a Legatus membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. One Call Starts It All: (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. Email: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org

HEALTHNETWORK FOUNDATION is a non-profit whose mission is to improve medicine for all by connecting CEOs with leading hospitals and their doctors to provide the best access to world-class care and increase philanthropic funding for medical research.

Natural sugar vs. added sugar

There are two types of sugars: naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are in foods such as fruit (called fructose) and in milk (lactose). Added sugars are those added to food or drinks during preparation or processing.

Susan Locke

Susan Locke

The average American eats more than 60 lbs. of added sugar per year. The major offenders are soft drinks, candy, cake, cookies, pies, ice cream, processed food and many types of store-bought fruit juice. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that sugar does not need to be completely eliminated from your diet. The American Heart Association’s guidelines for added sugars include these recommendations: men: 150 calories per day (37.5 g or 9 teaspoons); women: 100 calories per day (25 g or 6 teaspoons); children: preschool age, 4 teaspoons; age 4-8 years: 3 teaspoons; preteens and teens: 5-8 teaspoons.

You would think that reading a food label to see how many grams of sugar are in the product would be a good way to track how much sugar you’re eating. Here’s the problem: nutrition labels combine both the amount of naturally occurring sugar and added sugar to determine the sugar content. So products that contain milk or unprocessed fruit will have some natural sugars in the measurement. You don’t know how much is natural and how much is added.

In addition to the total grams of sugar listed on the nutrition label, it’s important to read the ingredient label carefully to see if there are added sugars. There are many different names for added sugar in a product, including: corn syrup, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, malt sugar, raw sugar, sugar, syrup, and products ending in “ose’ (glucose, dextrose fructose, lactose maltose, sucrose).

Here are some hints to help you decipher the language of sugar content on food labels: sugar free (contains <0.5 g of added sugars), reduced sugar (contains at least 25% fewer sugars per serving when compared to the standard product), no added sugar, without added sugar (no sugars or sugar-containing ingredients have been added).

When you look at the label and see 12 grams of total sugar, how do you determine how many calories in a serving are from sugar? There are four calories per gram of sugar. Multiply the number of grams by four and you will get the number of calories of total sugar per serving. For example: 12 g x 4 = 48 calories. However, you still don’t know exactly how many calories are coming from added sugar. Even so, this can be valuable information when trying to limit the amount of sugar in your diet.

We should care about added sugar in our diet because too much can contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Many things are toxic when consumed in large amounts, including water. This doesn’t mean we need to stop drinking water or cut out sugar entirely. Moderation is key. Watch for more on sugar in next month’s column.

SUSAN LOCKE is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.

HEALTHNETWORK is a Legatus membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. One Call Starts It All: (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. Email: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org

HEALTHNETWORK FOUNDATION is a non-profit whose mission is to improve medicine for all by connecting CEOs with leading hospitals and their doctors to provide the best access to world-class care and increase philanthropic funding for medical research.