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Sugar: How Much Should We Consume?

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Posted By Wendy Boulay

Sugar: How Much Should We Consume?

More and more, we are hearing reports that suggest Canadians should reduce their sugar intake. With no clear recommended amount set by Health Canada, we are often left feeling confused about what is the safe amount to consume on a daily basis.

What is Sugar? 

Sugar is a carbohydrate, of which provides energy to the body. Other than energy, sugar provides no other nutritional value.

Some foods contain naturally occurring sugar. Fruits, vegetables, milk, grains, legumes and others that contain natural sugar, also tend to contain other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre. These foods are not considered added sugars.

Foods that contain added sugar are what we need to be watching more closely. These foods have had sugar added to it and most often come in the form of soda drinks, juices, candies and chocolates, and more. Usually, the ingredient labels for added sugar contains the most common terms such as: sugar, glucose, fructose, sucrose, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, fruit puree and juice.

Potential Health Risks

Consuming too much sugar on a daily basis comes with some serious health risks:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cholesterol
  • Cancer
  • Cavities

So how can we reduce our intake? Visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s Position Statement to learn how!

How Much Sugar Should We Consume? 

Recently, there is some debate over the amount of sugar that we should be consuming on a daily basis. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, Canadian adults are currently consuming an average of 110 grams of sugar per day. This equals to about 26 teaspoons or 21% of total calories based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. (This includes all sugars, both added and naturally occurring). Approximately 13% is of this total is from added sugars alone!

The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada is recommending that we decrease our sugar intake to no more than 10% of our total daily calories. Ideally, less than 5% would be even better. This does not include sugars that are naturally occurring. So what does this mean? On an average 2,000 calorie per day diet, 10% is approximately 48 grams, or 12 teaspoons of sugar. 5% is approximately 24 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar.

An easy way to remember when looking at nutrition labels is that about 4 grams of sugar equals 1 tsp of sugar and 1 gram of sugar equals 4 calories.

Understanding Labelling 

(Taken from

  • No added sugar – The product contains no added sugar such as glucose, fructose, honey or molasses. However it may contain naturally occurring sugars such as those from fruit or dairy products.
  • Reduced or lower in sugar – The food contains at least 25% and 5g less sugar than the food to which it is compared.
  • Unsweetened – The food contains no added sugars or sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose.
  • Sugar-free or sugarless – Each standard serving contains less than 0.5g of sugar and less than 5 calories.




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