Dietary Guidelines and Added Sugar
Added sugars can add flavor to foods and make meals enjoyable but added sugar should not be the main part of your menu.
What Is Added Sugar
Added sugar is sugars and syrups that are added to foods. Naturally occurring sugars found in milk and fruit are not included in recommendations for intake of sugars. Added sugars include – brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose. Sugars are added to foods for a variety of reasons, including preservation, browning and of course flavor.
Why Focus on Added Sugar
There has been much conversation about how much added sugar should be a part of a healthy eating plan. Many foods that contain added sugars are not as nutrient-dense as foods without added sugar, making these foods questionable in terms of recommending them every day. In addition, consuming foods high in added sugars, like sugar-sweetened beverages, cookies, cakes, and other desserts can lead to consuming fewer nutrient-dense foods, meaning, we miss needed nutrients.
The 2020 – 2025 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) include recommendations for added sugar intake. According to the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), and as reported in the release of the DGA, the average intake of added sugars for the US is 13% of total daily calories. In reviewing the scientific evidence for the new guidelines, the scientific advisory committee suggested an intake level of 6% of calories, maximum. In developing the new guidelines, the USDA and HHS decided to leave the recommended maximum at 10% of daily caloric intake. This may seem odd but since 63% of the US population exceeds the current 10% maximum recommendation a recommendation of 6% would be unrealistic and likely be ignored by many.
What to do with Added Sugar
When it comes to planning your menus and managing added sugar intake the best advice is three-fold:
- Plan menus around the food groups first
- Enjoy beverages like water, milk, or 100% fruit juice
- Read labels to check for all the words that indicate – added sugar – and limit usage
These three things will put you on the path to limiting added sugars and you won’t have to worry about percent’s or numbers.
About Connie – Connie is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience communicating in the food and nutrition space. Taking the science of food and nutrition and translating it to simple messages, new products, or exciting menus is her expertise. Making nutrition messages clear, accurate, and engaging aids all consumers.