The new dietary guidelines, published earlier this year by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA), put a limit, for the first time, on added sugar, which causes inflammation and increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Too much sugar can make you feel lethargic (blame the energy spike and crash) and even cause rashes and digestive issues. The guidelines state that added sugar should make up only 10% of your daily calories. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, 50 grams of added sugar is your limit. That means it’s time to eat less candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream and sweetened breakfast cereals. Other added sugar culprits include beverages such as soda, energy drinks, fruit punch and bottled iced teas. Many other foods that contain added sugar may surprise you: crackers, yogurt with added fruit, tomato and barbecue sauces, salad dressings (especially the low-fat and fat-free varieties) ketchup, and store-bought smoothies.
How to tell if a food has added sugars? First, you should know that any food containing milk or fruit will have some natural sugars. The added variety will show up under a host of different names: white or brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, syrup, and anything ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).