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There are many desserts that serve as staples of the holidays, but the sugar cookie stands out from the crowd. Sugar cookies spark fond memories of baking with the family, receiving a treat from a loved one, and the delicious dessert bar at that one infamous Christmas party. They’re incredibly simple to make and easy to enjoy. America’s long infatuation with sugar comes to a head with the sugar cookie, but how much do we actually know about this treat?

The Sugar Cookie’s Origin

The history of the cookie goes all the way back to ancient Persia; the sugar cookie can be traced back to the American colonies. In the early 1700s, a Pennsylvanian Protestant colony invented a crumbly, buttery cookie that we know as the sugar cookie today.  They baked their cookies into a key-shape to symbolize the new-found state.

The sugar cookie is such an American icon that it has its own day of recognition, every year on July 9th is National Sugar Cookie Day. That’s in addition to being present on every other holiday.

The Sweet Truth

The American Heart Association (ASA) recommends about 36 grams of sugar a day for men, and 25 grams of sugar a day for women. The nutritional value of a homemade sugar cookie is an estimated 134 calories, with about 17 total carbs and 7 grams of sugar.

That might not seem like a lot of sugar, until you realize that it’s almost a third of your daily limit. Plus, that’s assuming that it’s a blank, unfrosted cookie with no toppings. Anything added to the cookie, adds to the amount of sugar. One too many sugar cookies and your sugar limit is maxed out.

Just like with other desserts, moderation and nutritional planning key. Now that we know what to expect from a sugar cookie, we can plan our day around them. If you’re going to a place where you’ll run into sugar cookies, then make room for one in your diet that day. Simple changes and tweaks can make a huge difference. For example, that means no sugar in your morning coffee, and an added portion of healthy fats and vegetables to offset the sugar.

Once you know how sugar works, and how it can affect your mind and your body, you take away it’s power. Sugar in general, especially in the shape of sugar cookies, isn’t good or evil. However, it can be unhealthy without proper balance. Find that balance, arm yourself with knowledge, and enjoy a single cookie now and again.