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Sweet Enough Already

(Added Sugar Guidelines and Tips for Reducing Sugar)

Sugar is commonly associated with desserts and breakfast pastries, but sugar is also a common ingredient in many other foods not normally thought of as sweet. Sugar is added to bread dough to help make it rise, and sugar can be found in many sauces, including pasta sauce, and condiments. Too much sugar is considered unhealthy, adding calories without adding nutrition and associated with obesity, increased risk of heart disease, and poor dental health. Nutrition labels can help you understand the sugar content of food, as well as the amount of added sugars, giving you the information you need to make the best decision for your health.

The updated nutrition label, effective July 2021, includes both total sugars and added sugars. The added sugar part of the label indicates sugar added during the processing of the food. For example, if you purchased a can of peaches in a heavy syrup, the total sugars would represent the sugars found naturally in the peaches and the added sugars in the syrup. One major market brand of canned peaches shows 18 grams of total sugar, which includes 11 grams of added sugar in a serving. One brand name of ketchup lists totals sugars as 5 grams, including 4 grams of added sugars. When choosing groceries, compare similar products and try to choose one with less added sugar.

Besides comparing labels, there are other ways to cut back on unnecessary sugar in your diet:
• Eat more whole foods rather than processed foods.
• Replace high sugar foods with natural sugar foods, such as a piece of fruit rather than cookies for an afternoon snack.
• Since most of the added sugar in the American diet is found in our drinks, cut back on sweetened beverages.

If eliminating all sugary drinks sounds too hard, try limiting the number of sweetened drinks you have and/or the size of the drink. And be sure to avoid diet sodas, since artificial sweeteners can actually cause sugar cravings. Drink water, unsweetened tea, or unsweetened coffee.

Reducing the amount of sugar you consume is a great step toward better health. And when you do want a sugary treat, be sure to enjoy it. Choosing a favorite dessert or indulging in a sweetened coffee once a week can work if the rest of the week finds you eating low sugar, whole food, healthy diet.