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Sugar and sugar free guidelines

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According to surveys and research done on the subject, the average American eats approximately 156 poundsof added sugar every year. One teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but those 156 pounds come out to be 269,568 extra calories, or 16,848 teaspoons of sugar! Generally, most of this extra sugar comes from sodas, juices and other sweetened drinks (not just from baked goods, so you don’t need to worry too much!) and avoiding those extra calories seems like a good reason to cut back altogether, or to switch to lower-sugar drinks when you want a soda. A bottle (20-oz) of pepsi, for example, contains the equivalent of 28 teaspoons of sugar. The same volume of Coke has 16.25 teaspoonfuls.

As with all things labeling can get confusing when you start to look for lower sugar products. The thing to note about the above statistic is that it is talking about added sugar, not natural sugar, and many products don’t differentiate on their labels. Here are a few definitions that should help.

  • No sugar added: No additional sugar is added during processing, although the product can still contain natural sugars. 100% fruit juice falls into this category.
  • Sugar-free: Less than 0.5 gram of sugar per serving.
  • Reduced sugar: 25% less sugar per serving than the regular version. If there is no regular version, this could be taken from the average of other, similar products, so it would be wise to compare the labels when purchasing and make sure you’re getting something that is actually lower in sugar.
  • Low sugar: Not an officially defined term, so it a product has this on its label, check the back to see how much sugar it contains.

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