Grass Roots Nutrition: Sugar

Grass Roots Nutrition: Sugar

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Dear Holly – Is all sugar bad? How much is too much? -Lolly Pop


Dear Lolly Pop – Some sugars are naturally occurring in healthy foods, such as the lactose in milk or the fructose in fruit. The fiber, fat and protein in these fruits and dairy products helps to curb the rise in blood sugar.


In our processed food nation, we are also having way too much added sugar. Some sources are obvious, like in soda or candy. Too many, though, are sneaky, like the sugars in ketchup, spaghetti sauce, dried fruit, salad dressings, peanut butter, cereals, granola bars and some drinks.


Did you know that comparing spoonfuls of ketchup and ice-cream, the ketchup will have more sugar than the ice-cream?


When you look at a nutrition facts panel, you usually will see total grams of sugar per serving. One teaspoon of sugar equals four grams. Currently our food labels do not discriminate between added sugars and those naturally occurring in the product, but this may change with labeling reform. To be safe, it is best to check the ingredients. Take note, though, that sugar may have many different names – corn syrup, agave, honey, fructose, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate are just a few pseudonyms you will come across.


The American Heart Association recommends we limit our added sugars:
– 3 teaspoons of added sugar for children
– 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women
– 9 teaspoons of added sugar for men


Try to use honey and maple syrup when sweetening your foods. While some advocates claim these choices are healthier, nutritionally they are about the same. What I like is that they are available locally. And, because they cost significantly more than table sugar, it makes you consider if you really need it before using.


It seems that for some people, the more sugar you have the more you want. It also seems like our tongue calibrates to our usual level of sugar. When I was in college I drank a lot of diet soda, a habit I later ditched. When I was drinking a lot of those artificially sweetened drinks, I tried berry seltzer and was horrified at the bland taste. My tastes buds were ramped up! After I kicked the diet soda to the curb and reduced my sugar intake, seltzer tasted great! So while we are all predisposed to like sweet and salty foods and drinks, how sweet or how salty we like things to be is relative to our usual “level.”


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What’s your question for Holly? Send them to For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by me, Holly Larson, a Registered Dietitian. Visit me online at and follow us on Facebook. Have a delicious, healthy day!