Cupcakes can be beautiful, but they are high in added sugars.
The typical American gets 16 percent of his calories from added sugars, according to the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Many foods with added sugars do not contribute essential nutrients to your diet, and their high calorie counts make it difficult to prevent weight gain if you consume too many. Knowing the leading sources of added sugar in the American diet and limiting your consumption of these foods and beverages can make your diet more nutritious and help you control your weight.
Recognize the Types of Added Sugars
Sugars are simple carbohydrates. Like complex carbohydrates such as starches, sugars provide 4 calories per gram. Types of added sugars include white sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup and brown sugar. These added sweeteners are no less healthy than natural sugars, such as those in fruit, but the added varieties tend to be found in foods lacking in essential nutrients. You can spot added sugars in the list of ingredients on food labels.
Liquid Added Sugars
Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute 36 percent of total calories from added sugars to the typical American diet, or 720 calories on a 2,000-calorie diet, reports "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Because sugar provides 4 calories per gram, that is the equivalent of 180 grams of sugar. Sugary beverages include regular soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks. A 20-ounce bottle of lemon-lime soda has 64 grams of sugar. To limit your consumption of added sugars from beverages, choose water or unsweetened beverages, such as unsweetened iced tea or green tea, unsweetened decaffeinated coffee or water with fresh mint or a lemon wedge.
Sugar in Desserts
Grain-based desserts, such as cakes, cookies, pastries and pies, contribute 13 percent of the total amount of added sugars in the typical American diet, while dairy desserts, such as ice cream, frozen yogurt and milk shakes, contribute 7 percent. Candy contributes another 6 percent of total added sugars. A slice of apple pie contains 20 grams of sugar, and 1/2 cup of ice cream contains 14 grams of sugars. Try fresh fruit, such as an apple, to satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming added sugars.
Sniffing Out Added Sugars
Fruit drinks contribute 10 percent of added sugars to the average American diet. To avoid these added sugars, choose 100 percent fruit juice instead, and check the label to make sure your juice does not include a source of added sugar in the list of ingredients. Sweetened breakfast cereals, many varieties of flavored yogurt and some condiments, such as teriyaki sauce, ketchup and honey mustard dressing, contain added sugars. Read the labels to find and avoid hidden added sugars.