Sugars are carbohydrates that your body converts to simple sugars like galactose, fructose, and glucose for use as fuel.

However, sugar can be found in a wide variety of forms. Other ingredients, such white, raw, or brown sugar, honey, and corn syrup, are added to foods while others are found naturally in fruits and dairy products.

While sugar can provide the body energy, consuming too much of it can lead to or worsen major health issues.

What is considered a high-sugar food?

Foods may be deemed high in sugar if they include amounts that are close to or higher than the recommended levels.

Men should limit their daily intake of added sugar to no more than 9 tablespoons (36 grams or 150 calories). No more than 6 teaspoons should be consumed by women (25 grams or 150 calories).

Foods high in sugar include:

  • sweets, including candy, pie, cakes, and cookies

  • dairy desserts like ice cream and milkshakes

  • soda

  • fruit juice

  • sports drinksTrusted Source

  • low fat yogurtTrusted Source

  • condiments like ketchupTrusted Source, honey mustard, and bbq sauce

  • many common breakfast cerealsTrusted Source

While some foods high in sugar may be obvious, many foods are surprisingly high in sugar.

How much sugar is too much?

Americans use 17 teaspoons (tsp) of added sugar on average every day, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010-2015Trusted Source. This results in 270 calories total.

But according to the recommendations, consumers should keep added sugars to less than 10% of their daily calorie consumption. Less than 200 calories should be accounted for by added sugar in a 2,000 calorie diet.

However, in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source suggested that adults eat only half of this amount per day, with added sugars making up no more than 5% of total calories. This would be no more than 100 calories, or 6 tsp, on a diet of 2,000 calories per day.

Symptoms of eating too much sugar

Following a sugary meal, some people experience the following symptoms:

  • Low energy levels: A 2019 study found that 1 hour after sugar consumption, participants felt tired and less alert than a control group.

  • Low mood: A 2017 prospective studyTrusted Source found that higher sugar intake increased rates of depression and mood disorder in males.

  • Bloating: According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, certain types of sugar may cause bloating and gas in people who have digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).


Risks of eating too much sugar

1. Heart illness
Consuming sugar has been connected to inflammatory changes in the body and elevated blood pressure. A high-sugar diet may also result in atherosclerosis, a condition marked by fatty, artery-clogging deposits, and an increase in triglyceride levels, a marker for cardiovascular disease.

2. Obesity
The likelihood of gaining weight increases when additional sugar intake is excessive. Fructose, a kind of simple sugar, is prevalent in sweet beverages such sodas, juices, and sweet teas. Fructose consumption disrupts the brain’s appetite and satiety areas, which can induce increased hunger and binge eating behavior. Furthermore, consuming too much fructose may result in resistance to leptin, a critical hormone that controls hunger and tells the body when to stop eating.

3. Type II diabetes
The biggest risk factor for diabetes is regarded to be obesity, which is frequently brought on by ingesting too much sugar. Insulin resistance is a side effect of excessive sugar consumption. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels rise as a result of insulin resistance, which also raises the chance of developing diabetes.

4. Depression
Your chance of experiencing depression may increase if you consume a lot of processed meals and added sugar. Sugar is addicting and raises dopamine and opioid levels in the brain, a process known as “sugar rush.” A higher risk of depression and mood swings has been linked to eating a lot of processed meals, notably sugary foods.

5. Acne
The hormonal axis becomes unbalanced and testosterone secretion is increased by excessive sugar consumption. Acne risk is increased as a result of increased oil production and skin irritation.

6. Aging
A normal indicator of aging is wrinkles. Regardless of health, they manifest eventually. Poor eating choices, however, can exacerbate wrinkles and quicken the aging process of the skin. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are substances produced in the body as a result of interactions between sugar and protein and are thought to be a major factor in skin aging. A diet rich in sugar and processed carbohydrates promotes the creation of AGEs, which could hasten the aging process of the skin.



How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

A person can reduce the amount of added sugar they eat by:

  1. checking food labels for sweeteners

  2. reducing foods with added sugar

  3. avoiding processed foods in general

Checking food labels

Added sugar and sweeteners come in many forms. Ingredients to look out for on a food label includeTrusted Source:

  • brown sugar

  • fructose

  • glucose

  • sucrose

  • maltose

  • honey

  • corn sweetener

  • corn syrup

  • high fructose corn syrup

  • raw sugar

  • molasses

  • malt syrup

  • evaporated cane juice

  • agave nectar

  • maple syrup

  • invert sugar

  • fruit juice concentrates

  • trehalose

  • turbinado sugar

Some of these components are sugar sources that are found in nature and are safe in moderation. But when producers include them in food items, a person may easily eat too much sugar without recognizing it.


Reducing foods that contain added sugar

Some food items have a lot of sugar added to them. The quantity of sugar a person consumes can be effectively decreased by cutting back on or eliminating these meals.

According to a trusted source, Americans consume about half of their daily recommended consumption of added sugar from soda and other soft beverages. 10 tsp of sugar can be found in a typical soda or fruit punch can. Breakfast cereal is another typical source of sugar. Many popular cereals, including some retail brands, have more than 60% sugar by weight, according to the EWG. Particularly with regard to cereals targeted for youngsters, this is true.

A person can reduce their sugar intake by substituting these foods for their unsweetened counterparts, for instance:

-substituting water, milk, or herbal teas for soda
-substituting low-sugar cereal, oatmeal, or eggs for sugary cereal

Avoiding processed foods

Foods are frequently sweetened by manufacturers to increase their attractiveness. This frequently implies that consumers are unaware of how much sugar is in certain foods.

An individual might have a better understanding of the ingredients in their food by avoiding processed foods. Cooking entire foods at home also gives one more control over the ingredients they use.

Too much added sugar consumption has a number of negative effects on health, including fatigue, weight gain, and more serious illnesses including heart disease. Many foods and beverages that have been processed have added sugars.

By understanding what to look for on food labels, avoiding or limiting common sources of sugar, such soda and cereals, and emphasizing whole, unprocessed foods, people can lower their intake of sugar.

A person should consult a doctor if they are worried about weight gain, symptoms that could be diabetes, or other symptoms they have after consuming sugar.