Mention “sugar” and most of us think of the white granulated stuff that we dump into coffee and sprinkle on cereal. Sugar makes things taste good and gives us energy. But it’s a much more complex aspect of diet and nutrition than we may think. Let’s do a quick quiz about it and then talk about ways to manage the amount we eat:

2

Teladoc quiz. Sugar: the good, the bad, and your body

1 / 5

Which of these products does not contain sugar?

2 / 5

Besides flavor, what other qualities does sugar provide to foods?

3 / 5

Which of these types of sugar has the fewest calories per teaspoon?

4 / 5

Sugar is classified as a

5 / 5

The technical term for table sugar is

Your score is

The average score is 50%

0%


Sugar is a carbohydrate, which our bodies break down and use as energy. But too much sugar can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, tooth decay, and weight gain. Most foods contain some form of sugar, so we get it in our diet without adding a single teaspoon to a bowl of oatmeal.

The easiest way to control our sugar intake is to limit the amount of sugar we add to our food. The American Heart Association recommends these daily added-sugar amounts:

  • Women: 100 calories = 6 teaspoons
  • Men: 150 calories = 9 teaspoons

Daily added sugar limit

Men

9 spoons

No more than:
9 teaspoons
36 grams
150 calories

Women

6 spoons

No more than:
6 teaspoons
25 grams
100 calories

Here’s a quick-glance guide to help you determine what types of sugar you may be eating at any time:

SUGAR TYPE TOP SOURCES
Fructose agave asparagus avocados carrots coconut sugar green beans honey lettuce maple syrup molasses palm sugar peas zucchini
Galactose avocados celery cherries honey kiwifruit low-fat Greek yogurt low-fat mozzarella plums
Glucose fruits honey vegetables
Lactose dairy products milk
Maltose baked goods barley cereals edamame sweet potatoes

Since getting away from sugar is almost impossible, be sure to read food labels. Look for these ingredients, all of which contain sugar:

  • Brown-rice syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Most ingredients that end in “-ose” (e.g., dextrose, maltose, sucrose, etc.)

No-calorie sweeteners
For people who are trying to lose weight or manage a chronic condition such as diabetes, controlling their carb intake is a vital part of their daily nutrition routine (remember: sugars are carbs). This is where low- and no-calorie sweeteners can be helpful. Popular sugar substitutes include:

  • Aspartame
  • Erythritol (sugar alcohol)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Stevia
  • Sucralose
  • Xylitol

Since some of these ingredients can cause gastrointestinal distress, be sure to talk with your primary care physician or a dietitian if you have digestive difficulties.

Speaking of digestion, Teladoc can help diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Acid reflux
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach

Our board-certified physicians are available 24/7 wherever you are. Download the app and access to top-quality non-emergency care is only a tap or two away. We treat springtime allergies, sinus infections, and sore throats too! (Quick tip: Use the app to add your eligible dependents.)

Sources

The Sugar Association
American Heart Association

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