The average American consumes 15-22 teaspoons of added sugar EVERY DAY, covering 16% of their total daily calories! We get excited therefore when we hear students say “I want to find ways to reduce added sugars”. Yippee!! (we do a little clap and dance). But then they proceed to list foods such as dairy and fruit as “high sugar foods” they are planning to eliminate. NOOOOOO!! (music stops). When you hear the message to reduce your sugar intake, it’s referring to “added sugars”. Dairy and fruit have natural sugars within them, along with a bundle of good-for-you nutrients! Lactose is the sugar found in milk. Fructose is the sugar in fruit. So please, please keep these active in your diet, aiming for 2-3 cups of low fat dairy every day and 2 cups of fruit. Let’s get our facts straight about “Added Sugars”.
Added sugars are sources of sugar that are ADDED during the preparation or consumption process. Examples include soft drinks, desserts, baked goods, sweetened yogurt, cereals, and snack bars and energy bars. Unfortunately, they are extremely hard to avoid, as they are everywhere in today’s foods! Why should added sugars be avoided?
- They take the place of higher nutrient dense foods
- Can raise blood glucose levels
- May trigger inflammatory responses
- Can lead to additional cravings
- Can train your taste buds (and your kids’!) to prefer a sweeter, but not necessarily healthy alternative
- An overconsumption can lead to serious health consequences such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease
- There is ZERO nutritional need or benefit!
Are there ways to reduce added sugars in your diet? YES OF COURSE! But how? Right now it’s all about being a label super sleuth! Identifying what key terms to watch out for in your products is crucial. The food industry is not 100% on board in pushing for change when it comes to added sugars (A fantastic read is “Added Sugar, Subtracted Science: How Industry Obscures Science and Undermines Public Health Policy on Sugar (2014)“) so it’s up to you right now to put in the time and effort to keep out the added sugars.
Here are 8 Ways to Reduce Added Sugars:
- Keep snacks healthy! Some of your healthiest snacks such as fruit and nuts contain zero added sugar. They’ll contain more nutrients and fiber to hold you over longer throughout the day.
- Check the ingredient list. The higher up on the list the sugar key word is, the more that is in your product.
- Swap soda for sugar free alternatives such as lemon water.
- Cut your sugar in a recipe by 1/3 to 1/2. Can you notice the difference?
- Substitute an extract vs sugar in recipes.
- Use unsweetened applesauce (equal amounts) vs sugar in recipes
- Wean down gradually the foods that you know you eat or drink regularly that contain added sugars.
- Use list below to learn names of sugars to watch out for in your foods:
- anhydrous dextrose
- brown sugar
- confectioner’s powdered sugar
- corn syrup
- corn syrup solids
- high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- invert sugar
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
How much sugar is ok? According to the AHA, for women, 24g (6 teaspoons or 100 calories per day from sugar) and men 36g (9 teaspoons or 150 calories per day). Remember, there are 4 calories per gram of sugar, so if a product has 15 grams of sugar per serving, that’s 60 calories just from sugar alone. Let’s not be a victim of our food industries negligence. Take responsibility for you and your family’s health!
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