January 28, 2021
Eating too much sugar can be one of the worst things you can do to your body. The negative effects of consuming too much sugar can contribute to numerous health issues, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver and kidney disease and even cancer.
While sugar is naturally found in foods and vegetables, the danger is added sugars in processed foods. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for most women (and children over the age of two). Currently, the average American consumes roughly 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugars per day. That’s nearly double the recommended intake for men and triple for women!
Below are tips for reducing added sugars in your diet to make positive strides toward better health in 2021.
According to the AHA, sugary drinks contribute to almost half of the added sugar in the American diet. Avoiding soft drinks and finding suitable replacements will make a huge difference in your daily sugar intake.
Water is always best, but if you’re looking for a little more flavor, try herbal tea, water with mint or cucumber, sparkling water or even diet drinks.
Cut back on the sugar (both brown and white) you’re adding to foods and drinks you consumer regularly, i.e. coffee, tea, oatmeal, etc. Instead of adding sugar, try adding fruit!
Fresh fruit like bananas and strawberries or dried fruits like apricots, raisins and cranberries can add flavor without all the added sugar. You’ll avoid the post-meal sugar slump and feel more energized for the day!
Fruits have natural sugar which doesn’t affect your body negatively like added sugars. When it comes to canned fruits, however, they can pack a punch in added sugars. Avoid canned fruits packed in syrup, especially heavy syrup, or have added sugar in the ingredients list. Shoot for fruits canned in their own juice or water—cans labeled “in own juice” or “no added sugar.”
Whole foods are not processed or refined and are free of additives and other artificial substances that are commonly found in processed and ultra-processed foods. Eating whole foods and cooking from scratch at home when possible will reduce your daily sugar intake.
Reducing your sugar intake isn’t as simple as avoiding sweet treats. Added sugar exists in all types of foods. Some foods and drinks with added sugars can be unexpected, so it’s important to check the Nutrition Facts label. Labels for products with added sugars will list the total sugars, as well as the number of grams and percent Daily Value (%DV) for added sugars. The word “includes” before added sugars indicates the added sugars are included in the total sugars.
For example, in this product’s Nutrition Label, one serving has 12 grams of total sugars. Included in those 12 grams of sugar are 10 grams of added sugars, which represent 20% of the Daily Value for added sugars.
The Nutrition Facts label serves as a guide for comparing and choosing foods with lower added sugars. As a rule of thumb, 5% DV or less is a low source of added sugars. 20% DV or more is considered a high source of added sugars.
At the end of the day, consumption of sugar can be a tricky thing to keep track of, but with a little effort, you can make a significant difference in your daily sugar intake. If you find yourself struggling to keep up, don’t sweat it! Focus on the small changes: cut the sugar drinks and avoid adding additional sugar to your meals and beverages. When possible, cook at home and keep positive! 2021 is a brighter year already.