You know it’s bad when the American diet has been labeled a national security threat by the military.
Over 42 percent of the American public is obese. Added sugars in food and drinks are a major contributing factor to the ever-continuing rise in the rates of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
The good news is that last year the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) made it easier for consumers to know how many grams of added sugars they’re consuming from packaged foods.
That’s why if you take a look at the Nutrition Facts label you’ll see “added sugars.” Every food company with sales in excess of $10 million was required to include “added sugars” to their nutrition facts label in 2020. For smaller companies, the rule takes effect this year.
But even with the inclusion of “added sugars” now on most nutrition facts labels, consumers still lack guidance as to how much sugar is too much.
For optimal health, the maximum amount of sugar you should consume on a daily basis will be revealed shortly.
First, though, let’s applaud the FDA for taking a step in the right direction in tackling the obesity epidemic.
The inclusion of “added sugars'' was long overdue.
For far too long, consumers have been deceived by food manufacturers, who have sweetened foods and drinks with ingredients that aren’t listed as sugar but in fact are just that. For example: maltodextrin, dextrose, molasses, evaporated cane juice and roughly 50 other synonyms of sugar.
How Many Grams Of Added Sugars Is Safe To Consume Per Day?
While we applaud the FDA’s inclusion of added sugars on the nutrition facts label, the new labelling doesn’t go far enough.
That’s because of three reasons.
First, although the new label includes a percent daily value of added sugars, it does not include a percent daily value of total sugars.
Second, in our opinion, there is no need to include a percent daily value of added sugars. That’s because the percentage of daily added sugars most Americans should consume is zero!
If you’re trying to manage weight and blood sugar, the last thing you need is to consume anything with added sugars.
And the third reason the new nutrition facts label doesn’t go far enough is that the daily value of carbohydrates remains ridiculously high.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to MayoClinic.org, recommends that Americans consume between 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates. This recommendation translates to between 225 grams and 325 grams of carbohydrates per day.
This recommendation is completely flawed and ignores basic biochemistry. Of the three macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein and fat—which one most rapidly converts into sugar and therefore raises blood glucose levels and leads to the secretion of insulin?
You guessed it: carbohydrates.
In light of this recommendation to carb load every day, is it any wonder that the obesity epidemic shows no signs of slowing down?
Added Sugars Recommendation Still Ridiculously High
The FDA says that the maximum number of daily added sugars is no more than 10 percent of total calories. That means that if you consume 2,000 calories per day, it’s ok to consume 200 calories of added sugars, which equals 50 grams of added sugars per day.
Again, for the average American who is struggling to manage weight and blood sugar, this recommendation is way too high.
Instead, Americans should receive dietary recommendations by authorities that emphasize eating real food—with no added sugars.
If you are healthy and active, adding a spoonful of a natural sweetener to tea or coffee won’t likely harm your health.
And if you do have an insatiable need to have something sweet, you may as well consume superfoods that contain nutrient-dense polyphenols and other phytonutrients.
Out of the many superfood powders we offer, only two have added sugars: Super Berries-Sweetened and Matcha Green Tea-Sweetened. We’re reluctant to even promote these two items but we realize that everybody deserves a sweet treat every once in a while.
You can drink sweetened Super Berries before going for a long run or drink sweetened matcha green tea after lunch for dessert (no having to add a spoonful of sugar to your tea). So when your sweet tooth does get the best of you, make it a healthy sweet treat!
(Both Super Berries and Matcha Green Tea are available unsweetened here and here.)
If you’re buying the same products week in and week out from the supermarket and you already know the items you purchase contain zero added sugars then you don’t need to pay attention to the nutrition facts label.
But for people who are just starting to become aware of the direct correlation between diet and health, it’s absolutely critical to pay attention to added sugars—and keep the number of grams of added sugars as close to zero as possible every single day.
This Is The Total Number Of Grams Of Sugar You Should Have
In the future, we hope the FDA revises the nutrition facts label and reduces the recommended daily value of total carbohydrates. We also hope the percentage daily value for sugars is reduced, and is listed next to total sugars rather than added sugars.
According to the World Health Organization, the FDA recommendation to consume no more than 10% of total calories is too high. Instead, the WHO limits total sugar intake to no more than 5% of total calories.
But if somebody eats 2,500 calories a day, the 5% recommendation equals 125 grams of sugar. Again, that’s way too high for someone with metabolic disorders.
So how much is too much? If you’re eating real food with zero added sugars, there’s no reason that you should consume more than 40 grams of sugar per day—all from naturally occurring fruits and vegetables. If you’re eating zero processed food, you may not even need to count the number of grams of sugar you’re having every day. Just make sure you keep your intake of tropical fruits like pineapple and mangoes to a minimum.
Also avoid bottled juices, even if they look like they’re healthy. Many commercial brands of juices add a ton of added sugars to make the drink palatable.
Instead of bottled juice, just add a scoop of Superfood powder to water or non-dairy milk. Each scoop provides 55 superfood ingredients with less than 1 gram of sugar (zero added sugars).
Not Enough Fruit, Too Much Fructose
Fructose is fruit sugar. As mentioned above as long as you’re not eating a huge amount of tropical fruits, consuming natural fructose from fruit supports health. The problem arises from added fructose. When we talk about “added sugars” the type of sugar that’s most often added to processed food is one form of fructose or another.
The problem with fructose is that it gets processed in the liver. When you eat a handful of blueberries the small amount of natural fructose poses no problem. Most processed food contains several teaspoons of fructose and zero or little fiber. This big hit of sugar quickly raises blood glucose levels and forces the pancreas to secrete a large amount of insulin to prevent blood sugar levels from elevating too much.
The fiber and low amounts of naturally-occurring fructose in whole fruits, vegetables and superfood powders greatly minimizes the rise of blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich foods and natural fructose also don’t tax the pancreas like processed foods do, which make the insulin-secreting organ work overtime to control blood sugar levels.
What About Artificial Sweeteners?
If you have a sweet tooth, are artificial sweeteners a way to cheat the system? While it’s true most synthetic sugars are non-caloric, studies show that they actually contribute to obesity by activating the brain’s reward center and thus increasing appetite for more carbohydrates (sugar).
The most widely-used artificial sweetener in food manufacturing is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS shuts down the activation of the hormone, leptin. Leptin sends the signal that satiety (satisfaction) has been reached and food is no longer needed. That’s why even if you eat a huge meal, if it includes HFCS, you still feel like eating more and more.
Best Zero Added Sugar Drinks
If you’re looking for the most delicious drinks with zero-added-sugars, BōKU Organic Superfood offers:
Super Berries: 10 of the world’s highest antioxidant berries: acai, cranberry, goji, pomegranate, blackberry, tart cherry, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, hawthorn berry
Coco Love: Hot cocoa powder with raw cacao, carob powder and 20 adaptogenic ingredients!
- Matcha Green Tea: Over 3X the antioxidant level of regular green tea.
Click here to check out our complete lineup of low-sugar superfood powders.