Intermountain Healthcare

National Nutrition Month -- Reducing Your Family's Intake of Added Sugars

It’s National Nutrition Month, and Intermountain Healthcare wants to help people live the healthiest lives possible, including improving one of the easiest things for us to influence, our diet.


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/02/2020 --Added sugars are one of the things you should watch for when you're trying to improve your diet. Added sugar in your diet doesn't add nutrients, but it does add a lot of empty calories, and it can lead to weight gain, obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease, and more.

So, how much added sugar is okay to include in your diet? "For a woman, the maximum amount of added sugar you should have in a single day is 25 grams, which is an eighth of a cup," said Charlotte Hunter, Intermountain Healthcare dietitian. "For a man, you should try to keep your added sugars to less than 36 grams per day, which is less than a fourth cup."

Hunter goes on to explain the difference between natural and added sugars. "If you're cutting down on your sugar intake, don't make the mistake of cutting out natural sugars. Some sugars occur naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, and even milk. Added sugars, on the other hand, are added to food in the form of table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup." She said that added sugars don't give any positive benefits to your diet, while naturally occurring sugars are often found in foods that give you the health benefits of fiber, water, and nutrients.

"The most common beverages you can drink often contain added sugars," said Hunter. "A lot of people say, 'Well, what about juice? That has sugar.' But the sugars in most fruit juices are naturally occurring sugars." She said that a 100 percent juice beverage is likely to have zero grams of added sugar. The same is true with white cow's milk.

"The trouble is that most other packaged beverages contain added sugars," explained Hunter. "In fact, some contain a lot of added sugars. Beverages like soda or sports drinks can contain more added sugar in one drink than a woman should consume in an entire day. If you drink your maximum amount of added sugars, it doesn't leave any room in your daily allotment for anything extra like dessert."

The average 12-ounce non-diet soda contains 39 grams of sugar, or about 9.5 teaspoons. "That's more than the average daily allowance of sugar in just one drink," said Hunter.

Many processed foods also contain sugar — including some you might not suspect, such as:
-Frozen food
-Instant oatmeal
-Pasta sauce
-Barbecue sauce
-Salad dressing
-Whole-grain cereals and granola
-Protein bars, granola bars, and cereal bars

Hunter gives eight suggestions to eat less sugar:
1.Don't drink your calories – experiment with infused waters
2.Start with breakfast – Go for a veggie-egg scramble or fruit & whole grain toast
3.Modify recipes requiring sugar with replacement options or removing sugar
4.Use a shopping list – A little planning can keep you from snacking
5.Check the labels – If sugar is listed in first 3 ingredients, consider some different options
6.Store it out of sight – Let the pantry be your friend and hide the candy dish
7.Surround yourself with healthy snacks

For more suggestions on reducing sugar, you can always talk to your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. "In the end, reducing sugar can help lower your risk for obesity and diabetes, while improving your overall health. The important thing is not to be overwhelmed but take steps that move you towards positive lifestyle changes."

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. To find a dietitian or learn more, see To learn more about National Nutrition Month and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, see