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The Truth about Hidden Sugars: A Risk for Health

Course Number: 558

The Truth about Sugars

Sugars are chemicals made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen that taste sweet.9 They are an important energy source for our brains and bodies. Sugars are further divided into groups; monosaccharides like fructose and glucose and disaccharides like sucrose, maltose, and lactose. Polysaccharides are long chain monosaccharides made up of starch, glycogen, and cellulose. The body breaks down these sugars and uses them for fuel. But studies show too much sugar can have many negative health implications. Refined or processed sugars are stripped of natural nutrients, leaving you with empty calories and possibly unwanted weight gain.6

Today, the average adult consumes roughly 22 teaspoons of added sugars every day.9 That averages 66 pounds of added sugar each year.9 According to the American Heart Association, individuals should consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day for women, nine teaspoons of sugar for men and three to six teaspoons of sugar for children.9 In spite of these recommendations, consumption of added sugar remains high, especially in the form of sugary drinks, which offer little nutritional benefit. Consumers often do not compensate for the high caloric content by consuming less food throughout the day. A single beverage may contain 34-47 grams of sugar per serving.4 However, for individuals who are conscious about obvious sugars in foods, reducing sugar intake in an already healthy diet can be tricky. For example, many sauces have 3-16 grams, flavored waters 10-25 grams, vegetable soups 8-24 grams, and industrial breads 8-12 grams.4