Americans consume a TON of sugar. The average adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. This translates to about 355 calories or roughly 22 packets a day. Crazy! Teenagers aged 14-18 consume about 34 teaspoons a day, 550 calories or 34 packets. Yikes! Natural sugars in fruits, veggies, and diary products are supposed to be there. Added sugar is the bad guy when it comes to our health. Here is everything you need to know about sugars, so you can make sweet, but healthy choices.
- Table Sugar- this is your standard table sugar, also known as sucrose. A teaspoon provides about 15 calories. This type of sugar provides little to no nutrition and over indulgence is the root of many diseases. Make sure you limit general sugar consumption.
- Brown Sugar- in Nutrition Land brown is usually code for healthier. This is true in most cases, but not in that of brown sugar. Brown sugar is actually just table sugar with molasses added to it. (this is not to be confused with Turbinado- raw sugar).
- Turbinado- (Sugar in the Raw) This is the white stuff before it is highly processed. Because it is less processed it might be a teeny bit better for you than regular table sugar, but not necessarily a healthy choice.
- Stevia- Stevia is all natural, 250 times sweeter than sugar with no calories. Where is the catch? There really isn't one. We don't hear enough about stevia because it is not approved by the FDA as a food. This is due to politics involving its effect on the sugar industry, interesting…A few products are starting to use stevia, but pure stevia is sold as a supplement, which the FDA does not regulate. Some people find a bitter taste with Stevia, but if you buy a purer product, you will be less likely to experience an after taste.
- Pure Crystaline Fructose- This is usually derived from corn and is sweeter than sugar. Because it is sweeter, companies can use less, saving them money and you calories. Products that contain Pure Crystaline Fructose will have calories, but usually less than their sucrose containing counterparts.
- Molasses- A tablespoon of molasses has about 60 calories. While that's quite a bit, it is a good source of calcium as well as magnesium. I am not suggesting you get your daily dose of these minerals through molasses, but there is more of a nutritional benefit when compared to standard table sugar.
- Agave- Like molasses, agave contains about 60 calories per tablespoon, and has some health benefits as well. While these aren't conclusive, studies suggest agave can help with immune function and acts as an anti-inflammatory. When compared to other sweeteners, agave is much lower on the glycemic index making it a better (not ideal) choice for those with blood sugar issues.
- Honey- Honey contains 60 calories a tablespoon and its benefits have been boasted by holistic nutritionists for years. While these findings are not conclusive, studies suggest that honey helps with immune function, and limits bad bacteria production. Honey also has antioxidant properties and vitamins as well as minerals. Honey is not a better choice for those with diabetes; it actually contains more sugar and carbohydrates then table sugar.
- Monk Fruit- Another good alternative to sweeteners. It is 150 times sweeter than sugar with no calories like stevia. While it is native to Asia, it is making its way to the states and will most likely be the next big thing in the grocery store.