The American Heart Association, noting a direct link between sugar consumption and the development of such conditions as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, has called upon Americans to drastically reduce their consumption of “added sugar.” Added sugar is defined, reasonably enough, as sugar added to foods during processing, cooking, or at meals.
The AHA estimates that currently, an average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day. That’s nearly a half a cup of solid sugar, accounting for 355 calories. Its new guidelines, however, advise women to consume no more than six teaspoons, or 100 calories, of added sugar per day and men to limit their intake to no more than nine teaspoons, or 150 calories. To adhere to these recommendations would require women to bring down their daily sugar consumption by a whopping 16 teaspoons and for men to drop theirs by 13 teaspoons.
The association, publishing its recommendations in the August 24 issue of Circulation, says that added sugars should not account for more than half of a person’s daily discretionary calorie allowance. One of the problems in achieving this, noted the AHA, is Americans’ fondness for sugary soft drinks. A typical 12-ounce can of non-diet soda contains about eight teaspoons of sugar and 130 calories, more than an entire day’s allotment for a woman. And that’s only one can.
The association also restated its endorsement of a diet based on fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry, and fish-the same sort of diet often recommended for people with pre-diabetes and diabetes.