Sugar Shock: How Much Sugar Are You Really Eating?

Sugar Shock: A 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola has as much sugar as 16 sugar packets!

A 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola has as much sugar as 16 sugar packets!

If you are like most Americans, you probably don’t check every nutrition label as you’re shopping. There are a lot of numbers and truthfully, they can be hard to read.

But what if I told you the “healthy” fruit cup in your kid’s lunchbox was equivalent to 4 packets of sugar? Just because a food claims to be nutritional, doesn’t mean it isn’t full of sugar. In fact, the sugar content of these common food products is shocking:

  • 2 tablespoons of Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbecue Sauce = 3.75 sugar packets
  • 1 Cherry Pop Tart = 4.25 sugar packets
  • 1 small serving cup (113 g) of Motts Apple Sauce = 5.5 sugar packets
  • 6 oz. Yoplait original yogurt = 6.75 sugar packets
  • 1/3 cup Craisins dried cranberries = 7.25 sugar packets
  • 20 oz. Vitamin Water = 8.25 sugar packets
  • 1 California Pizza Kitchen Thai chicken salad = 11.25 sugar packets
  • 16 oz. Snapple Iced Tea (Peach, Lemon, or Raspberry) = 12 sugar packets
  • 16 oz. Starbucks café vanilla frappuccino grande = 14.5 sugar packets
  • Super Big Gulp of regular soda from 7-Eleven = 32 sugar packets

This begs the question: How much sugar is too much?

According to Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University and author of the book What to Eat, anything with more than 15 grams of sugar should be considered in the dessert category. For a more visual comparison, 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to one sugar packet. That’s a hard figure to swallow when you consider that one 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola Classic is equivalent to more than 16 sugar packets!

Large amounts of sugary foods pose a significant threat to your dental health and promote plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth and gums. Every time bacteria come in contact with sugar and starches in the mouth, they produce acids that attack your teeth. These acids leave your mouth more susceptible to enamel erosion, cavities, tooth decay and gum disease.

As a result, most dentists recommend that you lay off the sweets as much as possible. However, when you do eat sugary foods, it is important to clean your teeth as soon as possible. In cases when brushing is not an option, consider drinking water or chewing sugar-free gum.

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