The Amount of Sugar We Consume Is Hurting Our Mental Health

America has a sugar problem.

Most of us will admit that we tend to have a sweet tooth from time to time, but when you actually look at the statistics surrounding sugar consumption in this country, the numbers are pretty jaw-dropping; the average American consumes over 70 grams of added sugar per day, which is well above the recommended maximum (38 grams for men and 25 grams for women and children).

The trends aren’t getting any better, either. In the 1800s, the average American only consumed around 2 pounds of sugar per year. That number jumped up to 123 pounds per year in 1970, with the average now at over 150 pounds per year.

But where is all this extra sugar coming from?

Food And Drinks Loaded With Sugar That May Surprise You

Unless you read nutrition labels like a hawk, there are probably quite a few foods and beverages that you consume each day that contain a bunch of sugar without you actually realizing it. Obviously we all know that a single can of Mountain Dew has a ton of sugar in it (46 grams to be exact, more than the recommended daily intake), but here are some other examples that may surprise you:

  • Barbecue sauce – This popular condiment can be your worst nightmare if you’re trying to watch your sugar intake. Just 2 tablespoons of the popular Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce contains 17 grams of sugar. The entire standard size bottle comes in at a whopping 238 grams, or over five cans of Mountain Dew.
  • Spaghetti sauce – Tomatoes don’t contain a lot of sugar, but the mass produced spaghetti sauces love to add it in for taste. A half cup of Ragu sauce contains 7 grams of sugar, with the full standard size jar coming in at 42 grams–or almost one can of Mountain Dew.
  • Salad dressing – Yep, even when you’re trying to eat healthy with a salad, there can be a ton of extra sugar snuck in. Take Classic Catalina salad dressing produced by Kraft: two tablespoons contain 8 grams of sugar, with the entire standard size bottle having 128 grams, or nearly three cans of Mountain Dew.
  • Milk – Even milk has plenty of sugar in it! One cup of 1% milk can contain up to 13 grams of sugar, which means that a standard gallon of milk will have over 200 grams of sugar in it! Now obviously this is a more natural sugar than the other examples, but there’s still 4.4 cans of Mountain Dew in a gallon of milk (when comparing sugar content).

How Sugar Affects Our Mental Health

The overall health effects of massive sugar intake are well known. High blood pressure, diabetes, and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke are just a few of the examples. But what about sugar’s effect on our mental health?

Analysis of the Whitehall II study found that men with the highest sugar intake were 23% more likely to experience a mental health illness and depression, while a Cambridge University analysis published in 2018 concluded that people who consumed large amounts of processed foods were significantly more likely to develop depression than those who relied on a “whole food” diet.

These are concerning numbers, to say the least. However, they make sense when you compare the trend of increased sugar consumption to that of increased rates of depression. Further, the correlation between sugar consumption and depression was even more apparent in a paper published in the early 2000s titled, “A Cross-National Relationship Between Sugar Consumption and Major Depression?” Here is chart that was included in that published work:

CountrySugar ConsumptionDepression Rate
United States3003.0
New Zealand4805.7

We are destroying our body and our mind with all of the added sugar we’re consuming. And, unfortunately, food choices continue to veer toward an even heavier reliance on added sugars, especially considering how cheap they are for the manufacturer to add in.

In the long run, though, it’s in your best interest to find a diet that avoids these added sugars as much as possible. Additionally, adding in a nutritional supplement like EMPowerPlus Advanced will help support the physical and mental well-being that your body needs to function at its peak. After all, as the years go on, even the “good” food you’re eating still isn’t as nutritious as you might think.