I’m trying to avoid sugar. Can you help me how to work out how much sugar is “too much”?
Okay, such a good question – how do you know when the amount of sugar listed is too much?
Well, this is a little subjective – which really is just fancy-pants talk for ‘it depends on what else you eat, how much exercise you participate in, how old you are, etc…’ but, here is the low-down…
Sugar is mostly an issue when it is in processed foods. That is, food in packages which you have no idea how much the producer has added. That is unless you are a savvy nutrition label reader, of course (or a dietitian)
In which case you would start by checking the ingredients list to find out where sugar is on the the list.
How do you do this? Well, given that ingredients are listed in order from most to least, you would know that the further up the list, the more sugar has been added to the product. Need to clarify more? Then read on…
Next thing to do is, check the nutrition information panel (NIP). Have a look at # grams of sugar per serve and per 100 grams, and think about it in these terms. 4 grams of sugar is a teaspoon of sugar (despite a teaspoon usually being 5 grams).
Note – if sugar is not listed in the ingredients list, but is included in the NIP then this is naturally occurring sugar in that product. For example plain low fat milk has approx 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams. This is the naturally occurring sugar, called lactose, in the milk.
Now if you are looking at the nutritional information panel on, lets say cocoa pops, there is 11 grams of sugar per 30 grams (or 2/3 cup) serve, which means almost 3 teaspoons of sugar per 2/3 cup serve (note, how much do you eat? Double this? then that is 6 teaspoons or 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar).
Note – I was actually surprised at this as I really was expecting a lot more. However, this is where is gets more complicated, as there is a lot more to consider here than just the sugar, thus the subjective bit mentioned above (let the dietitian in me ROAR…).
This product is high GI (not the healthiest type of food for the average person) and doesn’t contain any other vital nutritional qualities (nutrients that you can get from other foods, nutrients that help your body do it’s job of keeping you fit, healthy and alive). So really, sugar is just part of the considerations you should make when thinking about not only this, but any other product you buy.
So I have wavered and (as per usual) provided you with more information than you asked for, but most often nutritional questions are like this and involve a lot more than just a black and white answer!