How much sugar a day? The most important questions and answers

Wie viel Zucker am Tag? Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

Overweight and obesity are also common problems in our society, in all age groups, and are therefore the reason for many health restrictions. The excessive consumption of sugar is seen as a main reason for this condition as well as for many other diseases. This is processed, partly hidden, in many foods that we eat every day. As a result, the sugar consumption of many people is well above the value that is recommended as the absolute daily dose.

In this article, we want to provide you with all the important information about whether sugar poses any dangers, and if so, which ones. We also deal with the recommended daily dose of sugar and the actual average consumption within our society. An overview of the various alternatives to sugar should also give you the opportunity to consider whether potentially healthier sweeteners are actually available.

the essentials in brief

  • When we hear the term "sugar" we primarily think of the classic, crystalline table sugar, which is also known as sucrose. In addition to this, there are also many other sugars that either automatically occur in food or are used industrially to sweeten products. These include, for example, fructose, glucose, isomaltulose or isoglucose.
  • Sugar has the reputation of causing permanent damage to our body if consumed in excessive amounts and can even be to blame for the development of serious illnesses. Therefore, it is recommended to consume sugar in moderation. Despite this recommendation, most people eat too much sugary foods even on a daily basis.
  • In order to avoid the possible health damage of sugar, a suitable alternative to this is always sought. However, an alternative remedy that is significantly healthier and also as sweet as sugar has not yet been found.

Daily sugar consumption: what you should know

In terms of how much sugar you consume per day, it is important that you understand the properties, dangers and effects that daily or excessive sugar consumption has on our bodies. In this section we want to present this information, as well as the assessment of the maximum daily dose of sugar consumed by nutritionists and medical professionals.

What exactly is sugar and what types of sugar are there?

The product that we regard as classic sugar is also referred to as so-called sucrose, or generally as household sugar. Household sugar is made from sugar beets or sugar cane and consists of equal parts glucose (high-energy grape sugar) and fructose (extremely sweet sugar found in fruit). (1)

what is sugar

Most people associate sugar with the classic table sugar shown, also known as sucrose. However, there are many other types of sugar, such as fructose, lactose or maltose. (Image source: Mae Mu / unsplash)

In addition to sucrose, glucose and fructose, there are a large number of other types of sugar, some of which are less well known. These include the following varieties:

  • Lactose: milk sugar, found in milk and milk products, properties: half as sweet as sucrose, widespread intolerance (lactose intolerance)
  • Maltose: malt sugar, caramel flavor, popular in baking
  • Galactose: Slime sugar, found in milk and milk products
  • Tagatose: obtained from certain types of fruit or manufactured industrially, sweet like sucrose but low in calories
  • Isomaltulose: obtained from honey or sugar cane extract, similarly sweet to sucrose
  • Isoglucose: Derived from cornstarch, a common sweetener in beverages
  • Starch: multiple sugars, e.g. obtained from potatoes, do not taste sweet (2)

So you can see that not only the reference to sucrose or table sugar can indicate a sugar content in a product. Due to the many different types of sugar, you should therefore pay close attention to what is listed as potential sugars in the nutritional information of different foods.

What is the recommended daily allowance of sugar?

Based on a recommendation issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is recommended not to consume more than 50 grams of sugar per person per day. This roughly corresponds to the amount of 10 teaspoons of sugar per day. The WHO information relates to an adult with an average calorie intake of 2,000 kcal per day. (3)

The recommended daily amount of sugar for an adult is about 10 teaspoons.

In addition, this recommendation not only applies to conventional household sugar, but to the full extent of all different types of sugar. This recommendation does not apply to children. For these age groups, a significantly lower level of daily sugar consumption is recommended, or for babies and small children it is even recommended to avoid it almost completely. (4)

How much sugar per day is consumed on average per person?

In stark contrast to the absolute maximum dose of 50 grams of sugar per day specified by the WHO, the actual daily value that an average German adult consumes per day is around 95 grams, according to a study. This is the daily per capita consumption more than well over the actual recommended amount. (5)

Spread over the year, we even consume around 34.4 kilograms of pure sugar.

A large part of this sugar is not obvious to us, but is very often processed hidden in foods, sometimes even in those in which we would not necessarily expect sugar. (6)

So if you're looking to eat healthier and significantly reduce your sugar intake, it's important that you review the nutritional information of all the foods you eat. This is the only way to be able to evaluate your exact daily sugar consumption without falling into hidden sugar traps.

What foods make us consume sugar every day?

Sugar is found in a variety of different foods. On the one hand, there are products where we are aware of the amount of sugar we eat, such as various sweets, puddings or lemonades.

In addition, sugar is also found in foodstuffs that we would not initially expect to contain any sugar when processed. To give you an overview of how much sugar you are consuming when consuming certain product groups, sometimes without knowing it, we have listed some foods and their sugar content per 100 g below.

product group Sample product + total sugar content per 100 g
sweets eg whole milk chocolate - total sugar content = 51.23 g / fruit gum - total sugar content = average 74.67 g / biscuits - total sugar content = average 25.95 g
Juice eg concentrated apple juice - total sugar content = 76.88 g
fruit yoghurt eg strawberry yoghurt - total sugar content = average 13.37 g
pudding eg chocolate pudding - total sugar content = average 11.13 g
Granola / granola bars eg fruit muesli - total sugar content = an average of 26 g / nut muesli bar - total sugar content = an average of 19 g
lemonades eg fruit lemonade - total sugar content = 11g on average
finished products eg pizza with cheese - total sugar content = 4g on average
canned goods e.g. pineapple - total sugar content = 15.2 g / peach - total sugar content = 15.53 g
Ketchup e.g. tomato ketchup - total sugar content = average 23.28 g
alcohol e.g. sparkling wine - total sugar content = an average of 5.14 g
Fruit eg banana - total sugar content = 17.27 g / cherries - total sugar content = 11.66 g / dessert apples - total sugar content = 13.16 g
ready-made salads eg herring salad white - total sugar content = 10.6 g on average


This table impressively illustrates how much sugar is in food. Both those products were taken into account where we are well aware of the sugar they contain, as well as those products that we initially would not expect to have any sugar content.

It is therefore important that you pay close attention to which foods you consume in general and in what quantities in particular. Otherwise, you quickly run the risk of unknowingly exceeding the recommended daily sugar value by a large amount.

How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Our Body?

A daily, increased consumption of sugar can have different negative effects on our body. In addition to long-term illnesses, which will be discussed in more detail later, eating too much sugar can also have other unpleasant side effects.

The most significant and well-known effect of too much sugar is certainly the risk of rapid and severe weight gain. This is because our body turns excess sugar into fat, which then gets trapped in our fat cells. In addition, excessive sugar consumption can also lead to unpleasant digestive problems, as our gastrointestinal tract is irritated by too much sugar. Constipation, flatulence or diarrhea can be an unpleasant result.

Excessive consumption of sugar can trigger a variety of unpleasant symptoms on our body.

Extreme side effects can also arise if our body is used to regular increased consumption of sugar. If this is finally reduced, it can lead to symptoms that are similar to those of a feeling of addiction. These include enormous feelings of exhaustion , a general feeling of restlessness, headaches and concentration problems. For these reasons alone, sugar should generally be consumed with caution and therefore only be reduced. (8th)

What are the dangers of daily sugar consumption?

Daily, massively increased sugar consumption can also lead to a number of severe and sometimes dangerous diseases. Too much sugar can not only cause unpleasant side effects, but also demonstrably make our entire body ill. Below we have listed the various dangers that can be triggered by consuming too much sugar.

  • overweight / obesity
  • diabetes
  • Organ damage (e.g. heart, liver, kidneys, brain, intestines)
  • Tooth damage (e.g. caries & periodontal disease)
  • Skin problems (e.g. blemishes)
  • can promote cancer (9)

In order not to damage yourself and your body in the long term, you should deal extensively with how much sugar you consume every day through your diet. If you only consume sugar in a reduced, controlled amount, this does not pose a risk to your body. However, if your consumption is regularly well above the recommended daily dose, it is important that you reduce it significantly in order to protect your body no long-term damage.

What alternatives to the daily dose of classic sugar are there?

Instead of classic, crystalline table sugar, there are also a large number of alternative sweeteners. We should first briefly introduce what these are by means of the following list.

product Extraction / Manufacturing Total sugar content per 100 g
Honey Honey is made from the nectar of flowers by honey bees Total sugar content = 73.6 g
sweeteners Synthetically produced sugar substitutes - eg saccharin or aspartame contain no sugar
agave syrup Syrup made from agave Total sugar content = 75.0 g
Stevia Vegetable sweetener obtained from sweet cabbage contain no sugar
coconut blossom sugar Obtained from the blossom nectar of the coconut palm Total sugar content = approx. 93.5 g
rice syrup Grain juice obtained from rice grains Total sugar content = approx. 54.0 g
maple syrup Sap tapped from the trunk of the sugar maple Total sugar content = 67.09 g
sugar substitutes Chemically produced sugar alcohols - eg sorbitol or mannitol contain no sugar


In the further course, we would like to introduce you to the different alternatives to classic table sugar individually. In order to be able to offer you all the relevant information about the various products, we not only show you how they are obtained or manufactured and how high their total sugar content is.

In addition, we will also discuss their special properties and assess whether they are healthier than conventional household sugar and can therefore actually represent a worthwhile substitute for it.


The nectar obtained from flowers by honey bees has a total sugar content of 73.6 g per 100 g. Despite this quite high total sugar content, which consists of similar parts of fructose and glucose, honey is said to have many positive properties in contrast to sucrose.

According to study results, the regular consumption of honey should promote our immune system and general well-being. The product has a beneficial effect on our sleep patterns or our intestinal health, for example.

bee honey

An alternative product to classic sugar is, for example, honey. This consists of a proportion of fructose and glucose. (Image source: Art Throat / unsplash)

At the same time, honey also influences human eating behavior and can therefore offer support in reducing weight. The reason for this is the realization that after consuming honey, the craving for more sweet food can be reduced.

So, as long as honey is consumed judiciously and not excessively, it can be a much healthier alternative to table sugar. On the other hand, honey that is consumed in excessive amounts can produce symptoms similar to those of classic sugars. (11)


Sweeteners such as saccharin or aspartame were developed as direct alternatives to traditional sugar. Sweeteners are even sweeter by a multiple than the crystalline starting product. Since sweeteners contain no calories, it was initially assumed that the chemically developed substances could represent a significantly healthier alternative to classic sugars.

In the meantime, however, this idea has been invalidated by various studies. Therefore, even sweeteners are not suitable to replace sugar in the form of a sweet but at the same time healthy option. You should therefore only enjoy foods that contain sweeteners in small quantities. (12)

agave syrup

The thick juice obtained from the South American agave is considered an excellent sugar alternative, especially among vegans and people in general who want to live a particularly thoughtful lifestyle. This view is based on the fact that the freshly extracted juice of the agave contains many antioxidants and inulin.

However, some studies have shown that during further processing of the juice, the inulin is converted into fructose and the antioxidants previously contained are largely dissolved. Large amounts of fructose are considered harmful to health, as excessive consumption can lead to heart disease, liver damage and diabetes. Since processed agave syrup consists of 85% fructose, you should make sure when consuming it that it is only heavily dosed. (13)


Stevia has long been considered an innovative, healthy alternative to sugar due to the fact that the substance obtained from sweet herb is purely plant-based and contains no calories. In the meantime, however, different study results from Canada and Israel have shown that these considerations are not based on facts.

According to this, the consumption of stevia-containing foods should even promote weight gain and also promote diseases of the cardiovascular system and diabetes. Stevia is not a really convincing alternative to sugar because it is healthy. (14)

coconut blossom sugar

Manufacturers often want coconut blossom sugar to have a healthier image than classic sugar. However, coconut blossom sugar, which is obtained from the blossom nectar of coconut palms, has a similarly high proportion of sucrose, fructose and glucose as normal sugars.

Depending on the product, this can even be up to 96%. Since the excessive consumption of these ingredients is demonstrably unhealthy and can lead to serious health problems, you should only consume coconut blossom sugar in moderation. (15)

rice syrup

Rice syrup is an excellent alternative to other sugars, especially for people who suffer from fructose intolerance. This is because the syrup, which is made from the juice of grains of rice, contains only minimal traces of fructose.

Rice syrup is low in fructose and free of gluten and histamine.

However, since rice syrup contains large amounts of glucose instead of fructose, it cannot serve as a healthy alternative to classic sugar either. To make matters worse, rice syrup is less sweet than other sweeteners and, in order to achieve a similar level of sweetness, it must therefore be used in larger quantities. That's why you should also make sure that you only consume foods that contain rice syrup in a controlled manner when it comes to rice syrup. (16)

maple syrup

Maple syrup, which is tapped from the tree trunks of sugar maple trees, is said to have some positive properties. Similar to honey, maple syrup can have anti-inflammatory effects in our body.

In addition, the purely vegetable maple syrup contains various minerals and trace elements such as iron , zinc and calcium. Another benefit of maple syrup is that it is significantly lower in calories than regular sugar. (17)

maple syrup

Another popular sweetener that is an alternative to classic sugar is maple syrup. To obtain the syrup, the trunks of the sugar maple are tapped. (Image source: Nadine Primeau / unsplash)

However, maple syrup cannot be classified as a significantly healthier sugar alternative either. Although maple syrup does contain some nutrients that are essential for our body, these are only available in a rather small number.

In addition, maple syrup consists of up to 90% sucrose, so that it cannot be distinguished very strongly from classic sugars. Only due to the fact that the calorie content of maple syrup is slightly lower than that of conventional sugars, it could be attributed minimally healthier properties. However, since this only applies to small consumption quantities, you should also consume maple syrup with caution.

sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes, which include the substances sorbitol or mannitol, are so-called chemically produced sugar alcohols. Sugar substitutes are among the most popular sweeteners in the industry when sugar-free foods are to be produced. This is particularly due to the fact that sugar substitutes have a high sweetness value and are very low in calories.

The big disadvantage of the substances, however, is that sugar substitutes have a laxative effect from a certain degree. Some people even suffer from an intolerance to sugar alcohols. Therefore, the consumption of foods that contain sugar substitutes is only possible to a limited extent. They cannot function as a complete sugar substitute. (18)


Although sugar is largely to blame for widespread diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, most people consume it in far too large quantities, sometimes on a daily basis. This is due to the fact that sugar is used in far too many foods.

Sugar is often even found in foods in which we would not expect to find it at all. Another problem is the many different ways of describing sugar, which many people are often unaware of and therefore do not perceive as a sugar agent.

With demand for a more nutritious substitute for sugar, many different sweeteners, including artificial sweeteners, agave nectar, and coconut blossom sugar, are being touted as potential alternatives. However, these sources are also not a demonstrably healthier option.

In order to protect your body from damage to your health, you should therefore only consume small amounts of both sugar and any other sweeteners. To make sure you're sticking to the recommended daily amount of sugar, you should check the total sugar content of any food before consuming it.


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  2. Sugar Economic Association - Association of the Sugar Industry. Product information: Types of sugar. Source
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  4. Helmut Laschet. medical newspaper. Consensus of three professional societies How much sugar can it be per day? 2019 Source
  5. Sandra Ahrens. Per capita consumption of sugar in Germany from 2017 to 2018. 2020 Source
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  13. Phillips KM, Carlsen MH, Blomhoff R. Total antioxidant content of alternatives to refined sugar. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jan;109(1):64-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.014. PMID: 19103324. Source
  14. Meghan B Azad, Ahmed M Abou-Setta, Bhupendrasinh F Chauhan, Rasheda Rabbani, Justin Lys, Leslie Copstein, Amrinder Mann, Maya M Jeyaraman, Ashleigh E Reid, Michelle Fiander, Dylan S MacKay, Jon McGavock, Brandy Wicklow and Ryan Zarychanski. Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. CMAJ July 17, 2017 189 (28) E929-E939. Source
  15. Federal Association of Consumer Centers and Consumer Associations - Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband eV. food clarity. Coconut Blossom Sugar: Lots of Promises, Little Evidence, 2016. Source
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