Cut back on sugar says Heart and Stroke Foundation

iStock_000001336953MediumThe Heart and Stroke Foundation recently released a position paper with daily limits on how much added sugar Canadians should consume each day.

I watched this announcement closely and am glad to see the Heart and Stroke making these suggestions.

The Foundation is urging Canadians to reduce their total intake of added sugars to no more than 10 per cent of daily calories, but they suggest the ideal limit is five per cent.

They consider the added or “free” sugars to be those added to foods and drinks and include glucose, fructose, sucrose, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and fruit juice. But they don’t include those naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables, milk, grains, beans and nuts.

Why the new recommendations? The Foundation says too much sugar is linked to heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer and cavities.

Earlier this year the World Health Organization reduced it’s recommendation from 10 per cent of calories from sugars to 5 per cent or 100 calories from added sugars per day.

I was very surprised, when I started researching in depth about sugar, that Health Canada does not have specific recommendations around the amount of sugar we should eat daily. So if you look on any packaged food label, when it comes to sugar you will see the actual grams of sugar contained in the product, but there will be a blank space under the per cent of your daily value.

After much pleading and calls for action, in July the federal government proposed limiting sugar consumption to a 100 grams a day. But many critics, me included, feel this amount is still way too high and doesn’t differentiate between healthy natural sugars and added refined sugars in processed foods and beverages.

I hope these recommendations by the Heart and Stroke Foundation will encourage the federal government to refine their proposal and take a harder stand when it comes to this toxic chemical that has serious health implications.

How much sugar are we eating?

  • Before food processing, when we got sugar mainly from fruits and vegetables, we consumed about 30 grams per day.
  • By 1977, we consumed more than 70 grams per day, and by 1994, it was 110 grams
  • Today Canadians consume about 20 per cent of their daily calories from sugar
  • One in every five calories that Canadians consume comes from sugar
  • Canadians consume 110 grams of sugar a day or 26 teaspoons
  • We eat on average, 88 lb. of sugar per year
  • The average nine-year-old boy consumes 123 lb. of sugar per year and male teens consume 138 lb.

Where are we getting all of this sugar?

  • A 16-ounce Starbucks Frappuccino contains 44 grams of sugar or 11 teaspoons
  • 12 ounce can of Coke or Sprite has 33 grams or eight teaspoons
  • A lemon poppy seed Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar or five teaspoons
  • One cup of unsweetened orange juice has orange juice has 20 grams or five teaspoons
  • A half-cup of canned or bottled pasta sauce can have 7 grams or almost two teaspoons
  • An eight ounce flavoured yogurt has 43 grams or over 10 teaspoons
  • A bowl of granola can have over 10 grams of sugar or two-and-a-half teaspoons
  • One cup of unsweetened grape juice has 35 grams almost nine teaspoons
  • A 20 ounce Gatorade has 9 grams of sugar or over two teaspoons
  • Two A chocolate-glazed cake doughnut has 14 grams of sugar or three teaspoons
  • Two tablespoons of Thousand Island salad dressing has five grams or over one teaspoon
  • One tablespoon of ketchup can contain as much as 4 grams or one teaspoon
  • One tablespoon of honey barbecue sauce has 13 grams or over three teaspoons

If you are interested in cutting back on sugars in your life, I invite you to join me for my 8-Week Sugar Shift program. Register here.

*This column was originally published in the Herald Community on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.


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