Canadians consume too much sugar, the Heart and Stroke Foundation said this week, calling on the federal government to set limits on the amount of sugar that food manufacturers can add to their products—and urging consumers to watch what they drink. On average, more than 13 percent of our daily calories come from added sugars (including maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey and fruit juice), with beverages—sports drinks, soft drinks, juices and specialty teas and coffees—being the biggest culprits. Even moderate sugar consumption has been linked to heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and other serious health conditions. The Heart and Stroke Foundation would like to see our consumption of added sugar drop to no more than 10 percent of daily calories—this does not include naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables, milk, grains and other plant-based foods (legumes and nuts). For an average 2,000 calorie diet, 10 percent is about 48 grams, or 12 teaspoons of sugar—one can of pop can quickly bring you close, with about 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons of sugar.
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In July the federal government proposed the creation of a controversial 100-gram-a-day limit to help people curb sugar consumption, but health experts criticized it for being way too high—under that limit, a person could drink two standard cans of cola every day and still be under the proposed benchmark. The proposal also focuses on total sugar as opposed to distinguishing between added sugars and natural sources of sugar—cutting out apples to cut back on sugar, many health experts agree, would obviously be a mistake. But the federal government insisted at that time that the goal is to reduce overall sugar consumption.
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Today’s Parent senior editor Lauren Ferranti-Ballem covers health and everything else. She has two young kids who don’t like chocolate, so sugar isn’t much of a debate—yet. Tweet her @curlylfb.