Monday, September 17, 2012

How Many Grams in a Teaspoon of Sugar?

I'm trying to read labels to help me choose the best foods for me and my family. I have an idea of how many grams of protein and grams of fat to aim for in a day. But I want some more understanding of grams of sugar. I take it we don't actually need to have any sugar in a day (since we can get energy calories from complex carbs, starches, etc). But, is there a recommendation for a healthy number of grams? And just so I know, how many teaspoons of sugar are in, say, a 20 oz. bottle of soda that states 67 gm sugar on the label?
Julie M.

Hi Julie,
You may have seen the recent research showing that women who read food labels tend to weigh less, so you know it can't hurt to be observant. Good for you for taking the extra steps to feed you and your family the best choices.

You're right about us not needing any sugar, per say, in our diet. But I wouldn't encourage people to aim for zero grams of sugar in a day. For starters, there is naturally occurring sugar in milk, fruit and fruit juices. Avoiding these products will eliminate some foods that are good sources of some major nutrients.

If you're talking about added sugars, a limit is probably a good idea. That range, however, depends on all sorts of things, like your daily calorie intake, whether or not you are trying to lose weight (or possibly gain weight), and how healthy your diet is in general.
For an average adult who takes in 2000 calories a day, I think 20-50 grams is a good ballpark figure. This includes sugars found in baked goods, desserts, breakfast cereals, and added sweets like honey, jam, and sugar used in beverages.

Regarding grams per teaspoon, there are about 4 grams of table sugar in a teaspoon (this provides about 16 calories). So a bottle of soda with 67 grams has the equivalent of close to 17 teaspoons of sugar--a number that should make you take a pause before drinking another one of those!

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