The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Learn how to limit calories from added sugars—and still enjoy the foods and drinks that you love.
Choosing a healthy eating pattern low in added sugars can have important health benefits.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugars to no more than 10% each day. That’s 200 calories, or about 12 teaspoons, for a 2,000 calorie diet.
What Are Added Sugars?
Just like it sounds, added sugars aren’t in foods naturally—they’re added. They include:
• Sugars and syrups that food manufacturers add to products like sodas, yogurt, candies, cereals, and cookies
• Sugar you add yourself—like the teaspoon of sugar in your coffee
Some foods have sugar naturally—like fruits, vegetables, and milk. The sugars in these foods are not added sugars.
What’s the Problem with Added Sugars?
Eating and drinking too many foods and beverages with added sugars makes it difficult to achieve a healthy eating pattern without taking in too many calories. Added sugars contribute calories, but no essential nutrients.
What Foods Have Added Sugars?
Lots of them. Some include:
• Regular sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks
• Fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch
• Cakes, cookies, and brownies
• Pies and cobblers
• Sweet rolls, pastries, and doughnuts
• Dairy desserts, such as ice cream
Sample Added Calories
Tablespoon of Tomato Ketchup
1 Cup of Flavored Cereal
1 Serving of Flavored Yogurt (6 Oz)
1 Chocolate Bar (1.6 Oz)
1 Bottle of Sports Drink (20 Oz)
1 Can of Regular Soda (12 Fluid Oz)
1 Piece of Chocolate Cake
How Can I Cut Down on Added Sugars?
You don’t have to give up the foods you love completely. Instead, you can limit added sugars by making some smart, small changes to how you eat. Here are 3 things you can do:
1. Find Out How Many Calories You’re Getting
2. Make Some Healthy Shifts
Replace foods and drinks high in added sugars with healthier options. You could:
• Eat fruit for dessert instead of cookies or cakes
• Swap sugary cereals for unsweetened cereal with fruit
• Drink water or low-fat milk with meals instead of sodas
You can still have foods and drinks with added sugars—just choose smaller portions or have them less often.
• If you choose to have a soda, select a smaller size
• Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to your tea or coffee instead of 2
3. Check the Ingredients
Look for added sugars in the ingredients list. The higher up added sugars are on the list, the more added sugar is in the product.
Added sugars go by a lot of different names like: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn, syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw
sugar, sucrose, trehalose, and turbinado sugar.
Added sugars hide in foods that you might not expect. They’re common in foods like pasta sauces, crackers, pizzas, and more
What About Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners—like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and sucralose—can help you cut down on calories. But they may not be a good way to manage your weight in the long run.