Sugar, also referred to as sucrose, is commonly used in food processing. The carbohydrate is present in beverages, baked goods and candy. Taking in too much sugar can lead to a wide range of health problems including diabetes, tooth decay and obesity. Pay attention to food labels to keep your sugar intake low.
The American Heart Association suggests that men take in no more than 9 teaspoons, or about 45 grams, of sugar a day and women limit sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons or about 30 grams each day. The AHA notes that foods high in added sugar offer empty calories and little nutritional value. Eat nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fruits and vegetables to reduce added sugar in your diet.
People who eat large amounts of foods high in added sugar have been shown to be deficient in zinc, calcium, iron and vitamin A. Diets high in added sugar are often low in fiber, which can be a barrier to weight loss. High fiber diets create the feeling of fullness, enabling dieting individuals to take in fewer calories and lose weight.
Dr. Miriam Vos, professor of pediatrics at Emory University, headed a study which found that subjects who consumed high amounts of sugar were twice as likely to have low levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, the lipid which clears up artery-clogging LDL or bad cholesterol. The study indicated people taking in high amounts of added sugar registered high levels of dangerous triglycerides, fats formed as the body breaks down sugar for energy. Researches aren't clear on how excess sugar consumption influences blood lipid levels but sugary fructose, a prime ingredient in high-fructose corn syrup, might be responsible for elevating LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Sugars that are added to beverages or foods during preparation are referred to as added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruits or milk, are not included in the group of added sugars. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, added sugars are used in cookies, cakes, candy, soft drinks, sweet rolls, sweetened yogurt, ice cream and fruit punch. These sugars show up on food labels under the names glucose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, raw sugar, syrup, maltose, molasses and dextrose.