That article you read? It's not exactly accurate.

Brierley Horton
June 04, 2018

It’s true, yes, we as Americans eat more sugar than we should—about 19½ teaspoons per day (that's 82 grams), which adds up to 66 pounds a year. That’s about 2 to 3 times what’s recommended, depending on your daily calorie limits. And so it’s wise that we limit sugar-laden foods (Feeling like you need to break your sugar habit? Here are 3 tips).

But, not all sugar is exactly the same. So when a recent HuffPost article made the claim that certain healthy breakfast items had more sugar than a donut, we weren't terribly surprised to see them insinuating that you should trade your banana at breakfast for a donut. Here's why: 

HuffPost’s piece pointed out that one yellow-skinned fruit has five grams more of the sweet stuff.

But what HuffPost glazed over (pun intended) is that number is total sugar. And 100% of the sugar in the banana is natural. It’s called fructose.

Those natural sugar grams don’t count towards your daily sugar limit. But added sugars—which are the ones in a donut—are the kind you need to watch and curb back on.

RELATED: Here's Exactly What You're Eating in a Dunkin Donut

Added sugars are, well, added to foods and drinks during processing and preparation. In fact, sugar is added to 68% of packaged foods and drinks in the U.S. So, compare the added sugar in a donut versus a banana and here’s how it shakes out:

Why is that difference important? Eat a banana and you’ll get a good hit of fiber and potassium, as well as other key vitamins and minerals. A donut contains what we call “empty calories”—there’s not much in the way of nutritional value. This particular donut delivers 30% (6g) of your daily limit for saturated fat and 330mg sodium (or 15% of your day’s total), without any good-for-you vitamins or minerals.

But wait: I’m not here to suck all of the sweet, indulgent fun out of life. Go ahead, enjoy a donut on occasion. (I have my moments, too!) Just don’t think that sticky, sugary, glazed, goodness is actually a healthier choice than a banana (or that pizza is healthier than Raisin Bran, or that any junk food is better than a whole food). And—perhaps the most important takeaway here is—when you track your sugar intake—pay attention to added sugars.