Sugar is commonly added to foods to improve taste, influence texture, and balance flavors. While it is delicious, sugar doesn’t provide significant nutrition, other than the fact that it is a carbohydrate. As a carb it is a macronutrient and supplies energy to keep your body working. However, too much sugar can have detrimental health effects as it can contribute to obesity, which is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Try these tips to help you reduce your sugar intake!
Set your limit for added sugar. Women shouldn’t have more than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams, and men no more than 9 teaspoons or 36 grams, per day.
Read labels and ingredient lists to make healthy food choices. Always check the amount of sugar in foods. It will be labeled in grams. If a product doesn’t have fruit or milk in the ingredients, all of the sugar that may be found in the food is added. If fruit or milk is in the food, then the amount of sugar reflected on the label will account for both natural and added sugar.
Know sugar’s aliases. Ingredients that end in “ose,” like sucrose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, and maltose indicate sugar. Other names include: corn syrup, cane sugar, molasses, nectar, and fruit juice concentrate.
Understand sugar “terms” and what they mean on product labels. “Sugar-free” indicates a food has less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. “Reduced sugar” foods must have at least 25 percent less sugar per serving than their traditional counterpart.
Reduce your sweets. Limit certain foods with added sugar such as: cookies, cupcakes, candy, etc.
Substitute water for soda and other sugary beverages.
Watch out for sneaky sources of added sugars. Some canned fruits, packaged breads, premade sauces and fruit-flavored yogurts all contain added sugars.
Check your cereal and oatmeal. Cereals and flavored oatmeal can have more sugar than you realize!
Substitute sweeteners with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, mint or cardamom instead of sugar to add flavor to coffee, oatmeal and plain yogurt.
Choose fresh or frozen fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth. Here are 15 fun uses for frozen fruits.
Add fruit, rather than sugar, to your baked goods. Try swapping a cup of smashed blueberries or pomegranate juice for a cup of sugar in your next cupcake, cake or cookie recipe.
Determine how much you really need dessert. If you’re an everyday dessert eater, limit yourself to enjoying it only on a specific day, weekends, or special occasions. This can greatly reduce your sugar intake. Or swap your dessert for a healthier option like a smoothie.
Remember, healthy eating doesn’t mean eliminating all of the foods you enjoy—it means enjoying them in moderation.
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Coaching program, call us today to connect with a Wellness Coach for more tips to keep you healthy.