Happy Halloween! Today we’ve got the scoop on candy and sugar. Not everything about sugar is sweet!
Sugar:The Trickiest Treat There Is
It’s Halloween night, and you know what that means: candy. Research states that 156 million Americans participate in Halloween, and 95 percent of those people will purchase candy as the treat. That candy adds up to 600 million pounds each year, and averages out to 3.4 pounds of candy for each of those 156 million people.
To break it down even further, the average trick or treater will eat about 3 cups of sugar, which is equivalent to 220 packets of sugar.
Sugar has become a sneaky “super-villain” of sorts; it is popping up in many items that consumers may not be aware of. According to a 2014 report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the major sources of added sugar in the U.S. diet are:
- Beverages: 47 percent. Those include soft drinks (25 percent), fruit drinks (11 percent), sweetened coffee and tea (7 percent), sport and energy drinks (3 percent) and alcohol (1 percent).
- Snacks and sweets such as cakes, pies and cookies: 31 percent.
- Everything else, including condiments and dressings: 22 percent.
According to the FDA, on average, Americans get about 16 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends the amount of sugar calories you consume should not exceed half of your discretionary calorie intake for the day. Discretionary calories or “empty calories” as they are often called, applies to food such as solid fats and/or added sugars. These discretionary calories supply food energy but little or no other nutrition.
Health officials say one way to make sure you and your family remain healthy is to maintain and manage sugar intake. Reading the ingredient list on food labels can tell you if the product contains added sugars. There are many different types of sugar, but the two types of sugars in the diets of most Americans are natural sugars and added sugars.
- Natural sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose).
- Added sugars include any sugars, syrups or caloric sweeteners put in foods during preparation or processing or that are added at the table.
Two Important facts to keep in mind when reading nutrition labels and ingredients:
- 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon
- Learn the lingo, look for the “ose.” If an ingredient ends in those letters — sucrose, fructose, maltose and dextrose — it’s a sugar. Scan ingredient lists and pass on most foods where sugar (or a sugar alias) is listed toward the top.
Holidays and other special occasions can be tough when it comes to sugar and sweets. If you haven’t already purchased candy for trick-or-treaters, try a few of these “tricky” candy alternatives. Hopefully they will make your Halloween a little bit healthier.
2. Baked Chips
3. Fruits and Veggies
4. Fruit Juice Boxes or Bottles
5. Fruit Snacks (packaged)
6. Glow Sticks
7. Granola Bars
8. Mini Flashlights
13. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
14. School Supplies
15. Silicone Wristbands
19. Trail Mix
20. Vegetable & Herb Garden Seed Packets
21. Veggie Snacks (packaged)
22. Water Bottles
This article was written by Paula Scott, EFNEP State Director, republished from October 2015.