Lower the added sugar
One of the goals of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to reduce added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars such as lactose in milk and plain yogurt, and fructose in fruits are not considered added sugars and not part of this discussion. Researchers have been looking at the health costs to a high added sugar intake, and although it is a tough thing to nail down, it may be linked to inflammation in the body, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
The current average daily sugar intake is as follows for adults: 17 teaspoons for men and 12 teaspoons for women.
Added sugars come in different forms and with different names, but for calorie content, sugar is sugar is sugar. You might see these different forms of sugar listed on the ingredient listing of food and beverage products: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar or syrup, molasses, hone, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sucrose.
Researchers have found certain characteristics of adults who take in the most dietary sugar. They are usually younger in age, have less education, and have are not physically active.
There is no way that we will completely eliminate sugar from our diets. The food industry will continue to add sugar to a variety of foods to improve taste, cooking and baking properties, and to extend the shelf life of certain foods. But we can work toward a lowering of sugar in our diets with a few easy steps:
- Check the Nutrition Facts label on food products so that you can compare sugar content among brands.
- It can help to make more foods and dishes from scratch at home because that lets you control the amount of sugar added in the recipe. This is especially important in bakery and dessert recipes. You can reduce sugar content called for in a recipe by one-quarter to one-third and still have a delicious item! Or replace some of the sugar with natural applesauce or baby fruit puree for a natural sweetener.
- Always choose water as a beverage and you eliminate the sugary beverages such as sodas, fruit drinks, lemonade and sweet tea that contribute calories and spike glucose levels.
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.