Sugar: how much you should eat in a day, if artificial sweeteners are a good option, if fruit is a healthy substitute

We all love a sweet treat, but be aware that excessive amounts of sugar can wreak havoc on our health. In fact, sugar is also referred to as white poison and can lead to obesity, skin aging and diabetes, among various other health problems. However, having sugar in limited quantities is acceptable and natural sugar which is available in fruit and other food products may, in fact, be beneficial for you. Therefore, in this article, we decode how much sugar you can safely consume in a day, if artificial sweeteners they are a good alternative to refined sugar and also decodes the nutritional benefits of sugar that you get from fruit.

Speaking to, Dr Eileen Canday, HoD, Nutrition at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, said: \”Excessive sugar consumption can cause various chronic ailments such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, aggravate acne, rapid aging and dental caries, among others. Many people rely on highly processed foods that may contain hidden forms of sugar; this usually contributes to the main source of sugar consumption.

Agreeed Ushakiran Sisodia, Registered Dietitian & Clinical Nutritionist Diet & Nutrition, Nanavati Max Super Specialty Hospital and said limiting sugar intake is crucial for overall health, as excessive sugar can lead to weight gain and increased risk of heart disease. It\’s not just about the calories, it\’s about sugar\’s disruptive effects on metabolic health, she pointed out.

So how much sugar can you eat in a day?

According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugar you should eat in a day is 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women. However, less is always more when it comes to sugar, Sisodia said.

According to the World Health Organization, adults and individuals should reduce their sugar intake to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake, Canaday added.

Should you replace sugar with artificial sweeteners?

Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners may not be a good idea. WHO advises against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) to control body weight and reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. NSS includes all synthetic and natural or modified non-nutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and stevia derivatives.

While it might seem like a smart move to replace sugar with non-sugar sweeteners, it\’s not necessarily a healthier choice. Some studies suggest that these sweeteners can lead to sugar cravings and addiction, potentially interfering with the body\’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake, Sisodia said.

What about sugar in fruit?

This is the kind of sugar you don\’t have to deprive yourself of. The fruits are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. In addition to giving you energy, unlike refined sugar, they improve your immunity, digestion, provide hydration, among other benefits. Fruits such as mangoes, lyches and dates contain natural sugars, which are part of a healthy diet. Unlike added sugars, these sugars come with fiber, water and various beneficial compounds. So, the fruit is far from equivalent to a sugary drink or candy bar, Sisodia explained.

\"\" Fruits contain natural sugars fructose and are also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins and minerals. (Photo source: Freepik)

Dr. Canday added that fruit contains natural sugars derived from fructose and is also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C vitamin, potassium and other health-promoting phytonutrients. If fruit is eaten in adequate amounts with a good source of fat or protein, it can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Tips for limiting sugar consumption

Sugar can be addictive, Dr. Canday said, sharing some tips for limiting its consumption.

Make sure you eat small, frequent healthy meals to avoid sugar cravings.
Foods can be sweetened with natural foods such as dates, date syrup, figs or other fruits.
Opt for minimally processed foods
Choose plain yogurt over flavored yogurt
Swap sugar-containing milk chocolate for sugar-free dark chocolate
Check food labels carefully for any hidden forms of sugar

Remember, moderation is key. Rather than trying to cut out sugar entirely, aim to create a balanced and sustainable diet. And most importantly, make it a conscious eating habit, as it will help you make healthier choices in the long run, Sisodia concluded.

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