Summertime is here. The hot sun may have you reaching for cold treats, like milkshakes and slushies, but be mindful. These goodies often serve up a lot of added sugars. For example, one small, 10-ounce fruit slushy at a drive thru coffee shop can have around 53 grams (or ~13 teaspoons) added sugar. Tip: 4 grams sugar equals 1 teaspoon sugar. With sizes up to 24 ounces, you could be drinking about 100 grams (or ~25 teaspoons) of added sugar!
Why are added sugars a concern? Eating excess on a regular basis may increase your risk for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For this reason, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men per day for optimal health.
Added sugars are those added to foods and beverages by manufacturers during production. Although adding sugar to some recipes is necessary, like in baking, added sugars tend to contribute excess empty calories in meals. In other words, added sugars add extra energy (calories) to meals while providing very little nutritional value.
What’s that…You like sugar? It’s to be expected! Your body is innately drawn to sugar, because your brain’s primary source of energy is the sugar, or glucose, that you get from foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, beans and nuts.
You don’t need to stay clear of sugar altogether, though. The American Heart Association doesn’t say to not eat added sugars. Rather, be mindful of how many you consume and keep in mind the health issues that can stem from consuming them in excess regularly.
In the spirit of continuing to enjoy added sugars in moderation, make it a point to limit your daily intake of added sugar this summer. One way is whipping up your own refreshing frozen beverages. For example, the Lime Mint Slushy recipe below will save you 29 grams (or ~7 teaspoons) added sugar compared to a traditional small frozen fruit drink at your favorite drive thru coffee shop.
Lime Mint Slushy
What You Need:
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups ice
¼ cup fresh lime juice (~3 limes)
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves (plus one as a garnish)
Zest of ½ lime
How to Make It:
1. Boil water. Add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves.
2. Combine sugar syrup with ice, lime juice and mint leaves in blender. Blend until smooth.
3. If necessary, add more water for your preferred consistency.
4. Garnish with lime zest and mint leaf and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories 96, Total Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 0 mg, Carbohydrates 24 g, Fiber 0 g, Protein 0 g
Adapted from recipe found on The Kitchen Paper.
About the Author: This column was written in collaboration with Mary Mik, Dietetic Intern from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Carrie Taylor. Carrie Taylor is the lead registered dietitian nutritionist for the Living Well Eating Smart program at Big Y Foods and has been trained as a yoga teacher, mindful outdoor guide and Journey Dance apprentice. Have a nutrition question? Email [email protected] or write Living Well at 2145 Roosevelt Ave, PO Box 7840, Springfield, MA 01102.