Learn to detect the hidden sugars in foods Learn to detect the hidden sugars in foods

Finding out how much sugar is in processed foods is not easy. Learning to read food labels, however, it is a start.

Fifty grams is the suggested daily amount of sugar a person should consume, about the equivalent of 10 sugar packets (the kind you put in your coffee). The American Heart Association is more conservative, however. It recommends consuming no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams). And while the World Health Organization used to advocate for sugar not exceeding more than 10% of your daily caloric intake, in 2015, this organization decided to lower this number in half in order to have a more positive impact on health.

In addition to these recommended amounts, it is important to be aware of other hidden sources of sugar such as sucrose, fructose, maltose and corn syrup. Sugar has a bittersweet reputation, not just because it contributes to significant weight gain and cavities, but also because it is one of the greatest health risks to the heart, as Dr. Frank Hu and his colleagues determined in a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine magazine. (To learn more about the study, click on the following link: The sweet danger of sugar – Harvard Health).

For Hu, a nutrition professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, large amounts of this substance raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, which both contribute to increasing cardiovascular risk. It is important to know the difference between sugars. The natural sugar that is found in fruits, vegetables and legumes is an essential source of carbohydrates, and because it is digested slowly, it helps to deliver energy to the cells consistently.

The problem comes with the added sugars of processed products. Because the body does not differentiate between processed sugar and natural sugar, everything it receives turns into glucose, and any excess makes the liver be overworked. It is therefore important to steer clear of those sweets cravings.

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