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Limit Added Sugar


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Pamela Budhoo, Nutritionist, Health Influencer, Writer/Contributor for Effective Lifestyle

The two types of sugar found in most peoples’ diets are naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. Natural sugars are found in food products such as milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose). They occur naturally without outside additions. Added sugar on the other hand are sugars and syrups that are added to food and beverages during preparation, processing or even at the table. Sugar that was not originally there is considered to be added. Back in 2016, the FDA published new requirements for nutrition facts labels. One of the changes made was for manufacturers to include added sugar on the label. This is an excellent update to the labels since it will allow consumers to make healthier more informed food decisions. The new label has been appearing on packages even before the required change date of 2020-2021.

Added sugar can be found in a wide array of food products. Some general sources include cookies, cakes, soft drinks, ice cream, candy and sugar sweetened beverages. Using regular table sugar and things like honey, agave and maple syrup are all added sugar. According to the 2015—2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, here are some typical names added sugar goes by: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose. Check the ingredient label to see if there are any added sugar in your food product.

Consuming too much added sugar can cause health implications. Many individuals eat and drink way too much sugar than they recognize. Because added sugar is not something we need in order to function, we should become more aware of how much we’re ingesting. Added sugar doesn’t contain any nutrients. Essentially, the only thing they provide is many empty calories. The extra calories can contribute to weight gain as well as spikes in blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease can all occur due to excess added sugar. Fatty liver, inflammation and dental carries are also associated with the over consumption of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 100 calories or about 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women and 150 calories or roughly 9 teaspoons for men per day.

Getting into the habit of becoming aware of the amount of added sugar you’re consuming is an important step to a healthier lifestyle. Cutting back will benefit you in the long run. Here are a few ways you can limit your added sugar intake.

  • Gradually decease the amount of sugar you use. Start by cutting the amount of sugar you use in coffee and tea in half then begin to wean off of it. Try to also cut the sugar needed in a recipe by 1/3 to ½ when baking.

  • Swap out sugar-sweetened beverages. Limit soda and other sugary drinks. Choose plain water or sparkling water if you prefer carbonation. Add fresh fruit, mint or even a splash of 100% fruit juice for added flavor.

  • Compare food labels. Select food products with the least amount of added sugar.

  • Choose fruits for added sweetness. Top your oatmeal, yogurt and cereal with fresh fruit and skip the sugar.

  • Choose fruits as dessert options. Cut back on cookies and cakes. Opt. for natural sweetness from fruits. If you’re using canned fruits, avoid those canned in syrup and choose those canned in water or 100% natural juice. Fruit can be enjoyed fresh, grilled, baked or poached.

  • Replace sugar with herbs and spices. Improve the flavor of food with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mint and vanilla bean.

  • Dressings and Sauces. Be aware of the added sugar in ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomato sauces and salad dressings. If possible, make them yourself which will allow you to control the amount of sugar. If not, try your best to find ones with the lease amount of added sugar.

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