Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Americans consume between 100-125 pounds of sugar each year. That's roughly a quarter of a pound every day. Added sugars contribute zero nutrients but several added calories that can lead to extra pounds. It's no wonder that diseases such as obesity and diabetes run rampant. Cutting back on sweets can help protect you from these serious health conditions and may help you lose weight. Even if you have a sweet tooth, implementing just a few of these tips will help you eat healthier.
The American Heart Association (AHA) released guidelines for healthy sugar intake. While the average American is now eating about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, AHA suggests cutting back to less than 6 for women & kids over age 2 and less than 9 for men.
How to reduce sugar intake:
1.Avoid soda. Soft drinks are the worst offenders by far. A typical 12-ounce soda contains at least 8 teaspoons of added sugar, which alone is more than the daily recommendation for women and kids. Drink more water. Try adding flavor to water with citrus fruits or berries.
2.Limit processed foods. Candy, cakes and cookies account for a significant amount of our sugar intake, but so do some foods you might not suspect. Sugar is added to everything from whole wheat bread to peanut butter.
3.Read labels. Be mindful if the first ingredients listed on labels are sweeteners like sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Ingredients are always listed in highest to lowest quantity order. Check the total grams of sugar, but keep in mind that totals can include both added sugars and naturally occurring sugars.
4.Make healthy substitutions. You can eat delicious meals if you make smart substitutions. Switch to a breakfast cereal that's unsweetened or lightly sweetened. Add a little vanilla extract and fruit to plain yogurt and skip the processed flavors!
5.Prepare more foods from scratch. Using fresh ingredients gives you more control over hidden sugars. Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, vinegar (or lemon juice) and your favorite herbs and spices. Fresh will taste better and cost less than the sweetened supermarket brands.
Prioritize. Figure out how you want to use your recommended quantity of sugar per day. The sugar you eliminate from your drinks or other items may help enable you to eat your favorite treat like a small bowl of ice cream, a brownie or a couple of cookies after dinner.
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