Recommendations for reducing added sugar

Article 5 min

When the added sugar you consume comes from nutritious foods, it’s entirely possible to meet the recommendations.

By DFC - PLC, Nutrition Team
Recommendations for reducing added sugar

With all the bad press sugar is getting, it’s no wonder that most people are starting to think it’s time to go sour on the sweet stuff. However, in order to reduce your consumption of sugars, you do not need to completely eliminate all your favourite foods from your diet.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that added sugars be limited to less than 10 percent of our total calories per day.(1) So for someone consuming 2,000 calories per day, this would be a maximum of 200 calories from added sugars—the equivalent of about 12 teaspoons (50 g). When the added sugar you consume comes from nutritious foods, such as whole grain cereals and yogurt, it’s entirely possible to meet the WHO recommendations.

Just a spoonful of sugar…

According to the American Heart Association, it’s better to consume sugar added in small quantities to highly nutritious foods than to add sugar to foods of low nutritional value.(2) After all, adding a bit of sugar to enhance the flavour of nutritious foods like whole grain cereals, milk and yogurt is better than consuming nutrient-poor foods like soft drinks.

Take a look at this typical daily menu:

Meal Food Amount of Added Sugar(3)
Breakfast 1 ¼ cups (310 mL) wheat squares breakfast cereal 9 g (2 tsp)
  1 cup (250 ml) milk -
  1 hard-boiled egg -
  1 banana -
Snack ¾ cup (175 mL) vanilla yogurt (2% M.F.) 14 g (3.5 tsp)
Lunch 1 grilled chicken sandwich on whole grain bread 2 g (0.5 tsp) for the bread
  1 cup (250 mL) vegetable sticks -
  ¼ cup (60 mL) hummus -
  1 cup (250 mL) berries -
Snack 1 homemade raisin bran muffin 9 g (2 tsp)
  1 apple -
Dinner 75 g grilled salmon -
  1 cup (250 mL) brown rice -
  1 cup (250 mL) sautéed vegetables -
Total   34 g (8 tsp)

This example perfectly shows that it's realistic to respect the recommendations while consuming a variety of nutritious foods containing both naturally occurring sugar and added sugar.



1. World Health Organization. Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children. Geneva. 2015.

2. Johnson RK et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2009;120:1011-1020.

3. Health Canada. 2015. Canadian Nutrient File (CNF). Accessed February 20th, 2017.