Sugar is bad for you. While that might not come as a big surprise, new research has some shocking statistics on just how bad it is for you. In a study published in February in JAMA Internal Medicine, doctors found that people whose consumed 25% or more of their calories per day from sugar were over twice as likely to die from heart disease than people who consumed 10% or less of their daily calories from sugar. This was regardless of person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.
Diets with too much sugar have been linked to a whole host of heath problems including cholesterol issues, diabetes, and obesity, all of which come with lengthy lists of their own risk factors.
Most Americans can benefit from cutting added sugars out of their diet. Sugars that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, and other unprocessed foods, give our bodies more than enough of the energy that we need.
Kicking the sugar habit isn’t always easy, but if you follow these 5 tips, you’ll be well on your way to cutting your daily sugar intake.
The more sugar you eat, the more you’ll crave it, which makes cutting it out really challenging. Start by identifying all of the added sugars in your diet. Do you use sugar in your coffee? Flavored creamer? Do you eat candy? What about products with added sugars? Canned fruits? Cereals?
Understanding how much you’re consuming to begin with allows you to make easily make changes to your diet. Reduce your intake of added sugars and make swaps for smarter choices with less sugar. Change out candy bars for bananas, juices for water, and try new things like sugar free sparkling waters. You never know, you might discover something you like just as well that’s better for you.
Remember, sugar is addictive, so it’s important to eliminate as much of the added sugars as possible to break your addiction. One great way to achieve success is to create rules around your favorite treats, and only include them on special occasions or as part of a daily plan. If dessert is your weakness, for example, work to gradually reduce how often you have it to only on special occasions. And when you know you’re going to indulge in a sugary treat, plan well throughout the day to avoid things like salad dressings or condiments with added sugars so you can enjoy your special treat guilt-free.
Too many recipes call for added sugar to sweeten up a sauce, dressing, or side dish. The good news is you can usually skip the sugar and not miss out on any of the flavor in the dish. If you are craving something sweet as part of your meal opt for naturally occurring sweetness, like what you find in sweet potatoes, beets, or sweet onions to give your body the nutrients it needs without the added sugar it doesn’t.
You might be surprised how sneaky sugar can be. Spend time reading your food labels to identify when sugar has been added, and to find places where you might be able to buy other brands or products that don’t have the added sugar. Particularly sneaky culprits are canned vegetables and sauces, salad dressings and condiments. What’s more, manufacturers don’t always make it easy to know that they’ve added sugar, and can call it by many different names.
Most common are: brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, polyols, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, aspartame, sorbitol, turbinado sugar, and xylitol.
There are sugar free options of most everything available, so read your labels and be on the lookout for easy changes you can make to cut out a few grams here and there.
The number one source of sugar in American’s daily diet is in the form of liquids. Soda, Gatorade, juice, and sweeteners in our coffee and tea, account for more than one third of the sugar we consume as a nation, but are luckily it’s one of the easiest things to change. Whenever you’re thirsty, choose water instead of a sugary beverage and you’ll see instant health benefits. Try slicing up lemons, limes, oranges, and even exotic fruits like cherries, kiwis’ and pineapple for an infusion of flavor without an overdose of sugar.