Sweet Treats in Moderation
We all love sweets, but too many are bad for our health. A report from the 2001–2004 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) database showed that Americans consume about 22.2 teaspoons of sugar a day, or about 355 calories. And this number keeps increasing. Teens and men consume the most added sugars.
Sugar comes in many forms, such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, honey and molasses. The amount of sugar listed on a label includes not only added sugar but also naturally occurring, the kind found in fruit and dairy products. Wheat germ and other healthy food options may contain both types of sugar, but they also contain vitamins and minerals. For example, the amount of sugar in Kretschmer Original or Honey Crunch Wheat Germ is very low in proportion to its overall nutritional value.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends limiting added sugars to 24 grams a day (6 teaspoons) for a 1,600-calorie diet; 40 grams (10 teaspoons) for a 2,000-calorie diet; 56 grams (14 teaspoons) for a 2,400-calorie diet; and 72 grams (18 teaspoons) for a 2,800-calorie diet. You don’t need to count the sugar from fruit and milk!
Before eating or drinking something sweet, decide whether it’s really worth it. When it’s not, choose fruit instead. Or bake it yourself and boost the nutrients by decreasing the amount of sugar you use and adding nuts, wheat germ, whole wheat flour or whole grains. Dried fruit and fruit purees such as applesauce can add natural sweetness to baked goods.
Avoid wasting calories on beverages such as soda, juice drinks, sweetened tea and lemonade. Instead of eating fruit-flavored yogurts with lots of added sugar, choose plain yogurt and add in your favorite fresh fruit and berries and a sprinkle of wheat germ, seeds or nuts. Use fruit and spices to sweeten things naturally—all-fruit preserves on toast, cinnamon and raisins for oatmeal and bananas for smoothies.