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How to Cut Back on Added Sugar
A diet containing too much added sugar is considered a major contributing factor to the global obesity epidemic and has been linked to a range of health problems including certain cancers, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high triglyceride levels and liver problems. Each day the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar, which includes non-naturally occurring sugars added to improve taste such as corn syrup, white, brown and confectioner sugars, fructose, dextrose and honey. This far surpasses the American Heart Association’s daily recommendation of five teaspoons for women, nine for men and three for children. Limiting consumption of added sugar is clearly important for optimal health and disease prevention, and following these simple guidelines will help make cutting back on the sweet stuff a breeze.
Read food labels: Processed foods are full of added sugars, and they often turn up in some very unexpected places. Many breads, cereals, salad dressings, flavored yogurts and tomato sauces are surprisingly high in sugar, so be sure to read labels carefully to identify and avoid the worst offenders. Of course, making homemade versions of these foods whenever possible is the best way to know exactly what you’re eating.
Watch what you drink: It’s estimated that Americans get about 10% of their daily caloric intake from sweetened drinks. According to a study by Harvard School of Public Health, a single 12 oz. can of cola contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar! However soda isn’t the only culprit, you should also watch out for sweetened coffee drinks, fruit flavored beverages and sugary alcoholic cocktails.
Try a substitute: If you add sugar to prepared food or drinks, consider using a sugar substitute. The FDA has approved six artificial sweeteners: acesulfame-K (Sunett®, Sweet One®), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet®), neotame, saccharin (SugarTwin®, Sweet’N Low®), stevia, and sucralose (SPLENDA®). Each varies in sweetness and flavor, so try experimenting until you find one you like.