MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new study found some Starbucks favorites are filled with all the added sugar we should eat in a day — and then some.

For example, a large white chocolate mocha has 74 sugary grams, and a large hot chocolate has 60 grams of sugar.

Many of us have no idea how much sugar we consume beyond a few cans of soda, maybe a donut, a candy bar or a handful of cookies. But according to the American Heart Association, most Americans eat two to three times the recommended amount of sugar every day.

So, how can we tell what we are taking in?

“That’s a great question and it’s a tough one to answer,” Dr. Holly Willis, director of nutrition and dietetics at St. Catherine University, said.

First, she says you can check the nutrition panel on foods. Under the “Total Carbohydrates” is a line that tells you the grams of sugar. But that sugar measurement includes both naturally-occurring sugars — like the ones you would find in fruit and milk — as well as added sugars.

Willis does not recommend cutting back on fruits to reduce sugar intake because those fruits also provide other nutrients.

She instead suggests cutting back on foods with lots of added sugar. They have recently been defined as something that is used to sweeten food and contains calories. Added sugars can be found in many of our foods, including soda, desserts, cookies, candies, breads, sauces, condiments and cereals.

New USDA dietary guidelines say added sugars should make up less than 10 percent of daily calorie intake. If a typical day of calories is 2,000, added sugars should constitute less than 200 calories.

To do the math, consider each gram of sugar contains four calories. For example, a candy bar with 25 grams of sugar would have 100 calories of sugar.

“The easiest way for someone to get snapshot of how much sugar is in a product is going to be a combination of looking at that, reading the ingredients and using some common sense,” Willis said.

Experts says some added sugars are good, especially those that encourage people to eat foods, like whole-grain cereals or yogurts, with lots of nutrients.

“Whether or not it makes sense to do that math, I would say it makes more sense to think about what you’re eating,” Willis said. “If you’re eating an apple, know that it’s different than drinking soda or apple juice.”

Heather Brown

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