The Skinny on Added Sugars
As sugar consumption in the U.S. continues to rise, many Americans are paying the price with their health. Excess sugar consumption can lead to unwanted weight gain, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease.
Sugar provides no nutritional benefits. And because it is digested quickly, sugar-packed foods fail to provide you with the nutrients for sustained energy.
Now, think about this: many added sugars come from sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda. These drinks are devastating on diets. Why? Because they are not filling, despite having lots of calories.
How much should you consume?
Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar per day. This equates to 150 calories.
Women have a lower targeted amount: 6 teaspoons or 25 grams. This comes out to 100 calories.
One 12 oz can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar.
Where to cut added sugar
We all know that foods like cookies, cakes, candy, pies, soft drinks and ice cream contain loads of added sugar. However, some foods, while thought of as being healthy, can actually contain a surplus of added sweet stuff.
Pay attention to low-fat yogurts and granola bars that sometimes use added sugar to enhance flavor. Spaghetti sauces can also be packed with sugar to help counter the acidity of tomatoes. And if you’re a fan of smoothies, be careful of the pre-bottled brands, which can be loaded with added sweet stuff.
Check all nutritional labels for calories and sugar content before making a purchase. Keep in mind the many names for sugar:
- Brown sugar
- Syrup (of any kind)
More foods with added sugar
There are other surprisingly sugar-heavy foods out there. Ketchup and BBQ sauce are just two examples, so be careful of your portion size. Here are a few more to look for:
- Fruit juice: Keep in mind that fruit juice is not a substitute for real fruit
- Cereals: Aim for whole-grain options instead of the sweet stuff
- Sports drinks
- Coffees that use flavored syrup
- Sweet tea
Here are a few ways to help cut down on consuming added sugar.
You’ll be surprised at how a few small changes can improve your health—and the way you feel.
1) Start with limiting the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume. Replace soda with seltzer water and drink more water.
2) If you add creamers, flavors or plain sugar to your coffee, try cutting the portion in half.
3) Instead of pre-made smoothies from a bottle, make smoothies at home using fresh or frozen fruit and avoid using additional sweeteners.
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