Getting too much sugar in your diet may make you more likely to gain weight, as foods high in added sugars tend to be high in calories as well. These high-sugar foods may also crowd out more nutritious options in your diet. The American Heart Association recommends women get no more than 100 calories and men get no more than 150 calories each day from added sugars. It doesn't recommend limiting foods that contain naturally occurring sugars, such as fruits and milk, because these are rich in essential nutrients. Reading nutrition labels can help you limit your sugar intake.
Reading the Nutrition Label
The nutrition facts label on processed foods in the United States must list the sugar content of foods. These labels, however, include both natural and added sugars. Compare the total sugars in different foods to see which are lowest in sugars. Each gram of sugar contains 4 calories.
Look at the ingredients list to see whether any types of sugar are listed and how high they are on the list. Foods near the top are included in the highest amounts. Some types of sugar include sugar, honey, fruit juice concentrates, corn syrup, molasses, syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, lactose, sucrose, maltose and glucose.
Another way to identify low-sugar foods is to look for labels stating a food is sugar-free or contains no added sugars. Some foods labeled "less sugar" or "reduced sugar" may also be low in sugar. These foods must have at least 25 percent less sugar per serving than the regular versions, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Low- and High-Sugar Foods
Whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins are naturally low in sugar, and fresh fruits contain only natural sugars. Desserts, baked goods, sweetened beverages and many processed foods are typically high in sugars. Even foods you wouldn't expect to contain sugars because they don't taste sweet can still be a source of sugar, including pasta sauce, bread, condiments, peanut butter, salad dressings, sauces and marinades.