Take Control: Reduce Added Sugars

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image of different sweet treats

Take Control: Reduce Added Sugars

Happy Holidays! This is one of the most wonderful times of the year…there’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows toasting, and sweets baking this time of year. What’s not to love about the holidays? Answer: added sugars. This is one time of the year we tend to overindulge in yummy, delicious sweet treats everywhere we go. The office, church, home, family homes’, meetings, restaurants and the list goes on and on. They are scrumptious but it’s this time of year we need to be even more mindful of the amount of added sugars we consume; your health depends on it. Let us look at some facts about added sugars:

  1. They are not the same as natural sugars found in foods like apples, carrots, and potatoes, 
  2. There is an array of health impacts resulting from eating and drinking high-sugar foods and beverages. health concerns include:
    • Tooth decay
    • Heart disease
    •  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
    • Metabolic syndrome: higher blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides (i.e. type of fat found in blood)
    • Lower “good” cholesterol (i.e. HDL) —More belly fat
    • Obesity
    • Gout
  3. Americans consume on average 26-30 teaspoons per day…that’s 52 pounds a year!
  4. There are lots of different types of sugar that are added to foods and beverages but they are all added sugars: honey, molasses, syrup, sweeteners, fructose, (_____) sugar.
  5. Most foods with added sugar are pretty obvious: donuts, cookies, cakes, candy, flavored milk, and ice cream.
  6. Top culprits of hidden sugar: cereal, applesauce, dried fruit, yogurt, fruit snacks, and granola bars.
  7. Condiments are also a culprit of hidden sugar such as salad dressings, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and honey mustard.
  8. Even foods that aren’t sweet often have sugar added to them like spaghetti sauce and peanut butter and other nut spreads.

 Now let’s learn some ways to help take control and limit added sugars this holiday season and also help start the new year on the right path to a healthier you:

  • Consume added sugars within the recommended daily sugar intake of 6–9 teaspoons per day.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts Label to see the amount of sugar per serving in foods or beverages. Learn how to convert unit grams to teaspoons.
  • Check the ingredients list of the Nutrition Facts Label for the different sugars.
  • Eat smaller portions of foods that have added sugar.
  •  Flavor foods and beverages with fruits instead of sugar.
  • Choose water and sugar-free beverages instead.
  •  Choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit drinks.
  •  Choose low-sugar, whole-grain cereals.
  • Choose fruit for dessert and snacks.
  • Avoid or reduce the amount of sugar added to recipes or at the table.

 These are just a few of the strategies to help you get started in limiting the intake of added sugars. Learn more about how added sugars affect your health. You can also visit the American Heart Association website for more healthy ideas on how to substitute / limit added sugars.

The information in this article is based on the SNAP-Ed Steps to Health – Take Control Curriculum and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.