The Truth About White Foods
Should you give up white foods and their 'bad carbs'?
22 Teaspoons of Sugar a Day
The white food many of us would find hardest to give up is sugar. On
average, Americans eat and drink the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar each
day, mostly from soft drinks and candy, according to the American Heart
Association (AHA). That's as much sugar as in two cans of soda plus a
candy bar (roughly 355 calories). Over time, those extra calories add up,
causing weight gain and displacing other important nutrients from the
Sugar, in whatever form, provides few nutrients other than calories.
Some experts think eating sugar helps lead to cravings for more sweets - and,
of course, it can lead to cavities. More significantly, the AHA has raised
concerns about sugar's role in obesity, diabetes, and ultimately heart
While few of us are willing to give up sugar entirely, if you did, your
health certainly wouldn't suffer -- and you'd probably be a little thinner.
So how do you keep from overdoing the white foods or "bad carbs" in your
Use the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels to find out the total
carbohydrate, fiber, and sugar content of food products. Also, read the
list of ingredients; look for breads, pasta, and other carbohydrate foods that
list whole grains as their first ingredient.
To keep sugar in check, the AHA suggests limiting added sugar to 100
calories a day for women and 150 for men. And make your sweet calories
work for you by choosing foods that also offer some nutritional goodness, like
yogurts or whole-grain cereals.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions
and conclusions are her own.