Be aware of the amount of sugar in your diet |

Be aware of the amount of sugar in your diet

Jerry Vance
Special to the Appeal

The love of sweets is natural, avoiding them is impossible.

At this time of year, sugar seems to be in everything. A lot of our daily food intake contains sugar, and it is consumed in the U.S. at the alarming rate of 142 pounds per person per year.

Mostly in the form of white table sugar. Seem impossible? It isn’t, and the rate continues to climb.

Cereal is a good source of that sugar consumption. The cereals that contain the most sugar are Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs, Fruity Pebbles, Honey-Comb, Waffle Crisp and others that I’ve never heard of.

The fat content in some of these cereals also is quite high. Raisin Nut Bran, Cracklin’ Oat Bran, Banana Nut Crunch, Blueberry Morning and other nutty cereals, all have more than three grams of fat per serving.

Not only are you adding calories and fat, you are gaining little nutritional value for those calories. Hidden in many foods are additional sugar calories used in food processing.

Sugar retains moisture, prevents spoilage, adds to the appearance of food, and changes its texture. Also, when a food item is not selling, the manufacturer will add a little sugar to boost sales.

Most of the pounds of sugar you consume per year are added at the factory; as much as two thirds.

The rest you add at home or when eating out. Sugar takes many forms: Sucrose, maltose, molasses, honey, fructose, glucose, corn syrup, brown or white sugar.

It’s in the ketchup you put on that hamburger – one teaspoon of sugar for every tablespoon. Here’s an interesting comparison statistic: One pound of apples equals 263 calories and one pound of Tootsie Rolls is 1,792!

Another sugar example is low-fat yogurt with fruit, which contains 13 teaspoons of sugar. Kool-Aid has six teaspoons in eight ounces!

Here you thought you were eating healthy.

Nutritionally speaking, you don’t need sweets. You can pick up your required energy source from converted starches. However, the public will always love a sweet taste and a little usually means a lot.

Once started on the Tootsie Rolls or the jelly beans, you’ll finish the whole package. Before you start on the candy or cookies eat some fruit, it will satisfy the sweet cravings and there’s no fat!

This is an interesting side to the sugar story. Did you know there is sugar alcohol? It is neither a sugar nor an alcohol. It has the chemical structure that slightly resembles sugar and alcohol but it doesn’t contain ethanol and is used as a replacement for sugar.

It occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and is used in sugar-free products as a sweetener. Diabetics use sugar alcohol in their nutritional products, dieters use it for weight loss, and it is used in sugar-free candy and chewing gum.

Keep your eyes open for hidden sugar in your holiday products, think about that 142 pounds per year. Once you start on those gift chocolates and candy canes, it will take you forever to break the sweet habit.

• Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.