Sugar, Oh, Honey, Honey

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Americans are on a sugar high. On average, Americans consume 22 to 30 teaspoons of added sugar each day. At 16 calories per teaspoon, that equates to 352 to 480 nutritionally-void calories. The American Heart Association is urging Americans to reduce their daily added sugar intake to 25 grams/6.5 teaspoons or less for women and 38 grams/9.5 teaspoons or less for men.

This recommendation only refers to the added sugars that are commonly found in processed and packaged foods, not the naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, and milk. Don't worry about the naturally occurring sugars; added sugars are the real issue.  Added sugars include table sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar/syrup, and evaporated cane juice.

Refined sugars are everywhere - breads, fruit juices, yogurts, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Sugar stokes your appetite, contributes to weight gain, causes tooth decay, and is addictive. To keep your sugar consumption within reasonable limits, read labels; check the nutritional fact panel and the ingredients list. Avoid consuming foods with more than 5g of sugar per serving.  See the list below for the many forms of sugar.

The Aliases of Sugar
  • Sucrose (table sugar) breaks down into 50% fructose, 50% glucose in the body.
  • Agave syrup or nectar (84% fructose, 8% glucose, 8% sucrose). From the Mexican Agave cactus.
  • Apple juice concentrate (60% fructose, 27% glucose, 13% sucrose). Made by cooking down apple juice.
  • Brown sugar (97% sucrose, 1% fructose, 1% glucose). Granulated white sugar mixed with a small amount of molasses.
  • Corn syrup (8% to 96% glucose, 0% fructose, 0% sucrose). A liquid made from cornstarch.
  • Evaporated cane juice (100% sucrose). Crystals made by evaporating liquid that has been pressed from sugarcane.
  • Fructose (100% fructose). Found naturally in fruits and vegetables. We get most of our fructose from high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Glucose or Dextrose (100% glucose) Small amounts are found naturally in fruit and vegetables, but most is made from cornstarch. It's also found in honey and most other sugars.
  • Grape juice concentrate (52% fructose, 48% glucose). Made by cooking down grape juice.
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (typically 55% fructose, 45% glucose or 58% glucose, 42% fructose). Corn syrup with some of its glucose converted into fructose.
  • Honey (50% fructose, 44% glucose, 1% sucrose). Made by honeybees from plant nectar.
  • Maple syrup (95% sucrose, 4% glucose, 1% fructose). Boiled down tree sap from the sugar maple tree.
  • Molasses (53% sucrose, 23% fructose, 21% glucose). Byproduct of sugarcane refining. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron and calcium.
  • Orange juice concentrate (46% sucrose, 28% fructose, 26% glucose). Made by cooking down orange juice.
  • Raw sugar (100% sucrose). Partially refined sugar with some molasses left.
  • Table sugar, Confectioner's sugar, Baker's sugar, Powdered sugar (100% sucrose). Most is refined from sugarcane or beets.
Note: If percentages don't add up to 100, other sugars account for the difference.
Sources: USDA Nutrient Database and company information; CSPI