Sugar: How much is enough?

Sugar is a contributing factor of belly fat and Type 2 diabetes.

Almost all social gatherings, holidays and celebrations include eating and good food. You can be a smart eater this holiday season by watching how much sugar you intake.

For many years, research has linked a diet high in sugar with an increased risk for developing chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. Most of the studies confirmed these findings in individuals who consumed sugar sweetened beverages. Now, recent studies are finding that belly fat is correlated to consumption of sugar intake. Belly fat is the fat that inhibits the body’s efficiency and ability to use insulin, which may lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Sugar is naturally occurring in certain foods such as fruit, milk and plain yogurt. It’s the added sugar we have to watch for when reading food labels. How can you become smarter about your sugar sweetened indulgences this holiday season and beyond? Read the labels. According to Nutrition Action, women should consume six and men should consume nine teaspoons of added sugar or less a day, respectively. A good piece of information to keep in mind when reading food labels is that four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar.

So how about fruit juice? Nutrition Action recommends that men and women limit their intake of sugar sweetened beverages to one cup a day. Also remember that added sugars can take many different forms, such as high-fructose corn syrup, cane or beet sugar, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, agave syrup and honey.

Michigan State University Extension recommends following a well-balanced diet, such as MyPlate. MSU Extension offers various educational programs that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating. For more information regarding nutrition, chronic disease or Type 2 diabetes contact your local MSU Extension office.

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