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Americans eat too much sugar

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database from 2001 to 2004 showed that the average intake of added sugars for all Americans was 22.2 teaspoons or about 355 calories per day. "Added sugars" are sugars and syrups that are added during processing or preparation of foods as well as sugars and syrups that are added at the table, they do not include the sugars that are naturally present in fruits and whole grains.

In August 2009, The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a recommendation to cut the intake of added sugars.[1] The publication gives consumers detailed guidance of the upper limit of added sugars in the diet. The AHA recommendations emphasize a healthy lifestyle and a diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish. In addition to consuming an overall healthy diet, the guidelines emphasize the importance of a healthy body weight to avoid metabolic abnormalities and adverse health conditions such diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The problem with added sugars is that they are refined carbohydrates without any vitamin or mineral content. Sugars are just "empty calories" without any nutritive value. If you don't exercise enough to burn them off, the body converts them to fat.

Most American women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars per day; most men, no more than 150 calories. That corresponds to about 6 teaspoons of added sugars a day for women and 9 for men. Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the greatest source of added sugars in the American diet. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 130 calories from 8 teaspoons of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This means that even one can of soda per day is too much for the average woman, and this does not count all the other sources of added sugars such as salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, candy, and baked goods.

Learn about weight control and healthy diet

[1] Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health. A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association, Circulation, 2009 Aug 24, PMID: 19704096 [link]

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