Is sugar sabotaging your health?

March 20, 2017 | by Alanna Elliott, RD, LDN
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

There’s sugar in cookies, there’s sugar in candy bars. There’s sugar in caramel lattes, chocolate-covered raisins and popsicles.

There’s also sugar in jars of pasta sauce, loaves of bread and peanut butter.

There’s so much sugar added into our food, it’s almost impossible to keep up with it. There are 61 names for sugar blanketing nutrition labels. Do you know them all?

You can probably guess exactly which foods have the most added sugar: things like candy, soda, ice cream, cookies and cake. But did you realize a 20-ounce bottle of Lemon-Lime Gatorade contains 34 grams of sugar? That’s more sugar than a Snickers candy bar!

Big deal, you may think. So I eat a little more sugar than I should. What’s the harm?

Research has found that excess sugar actually causes more problems than we ever imagined.

All that sugar will cause you to gain weight, which in turn can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. These symptoms can lead to chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugar you eat to 100 calories per day for women, 150 calories per day for men. That amounts to less sugar than one can of soda (which has about 160 calories, 10 teaspoons of sugar).

That’s not an easy task, considering the vast amount of high-sugar, processed foods we’re faced with each day. But it’s not impossible. In fact, it gets easier to pull off as you get used to permanent, healthy changes in your eating habits.

Mayo Clinic offers a great list of tips to start you on a lower-sugar path:

  • Drink water or other calorie-free drinks instead of sugary sodas or sports drinks. That goes for coffee drinks, too. If plain water is too boring, add in fruit such as lemons, limes, or strawberries for added flavor without all of the sugar.
  • Drink more tea. Tea is also a great choice if you don’t like plain water or want to change it up. There are a wide variety of teas for every palate, check out the tea aisle for a flavor that suits you.
  • Change up your coffee routine. You can save up to 400 calories by swapping out that sugar-laden latte for plain black coffee with skim milk and a non-calorie sweetener such as stevia or Splenda.
  • Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. Fruit is a great source of fiber, which helps to keep you fuller for longer and regulate blood sugars. Fruit juice does not have this fiber and does not contribute to satiety. If you must drink juice, make sure it's 100 percent fruit juice — not juice drinks that have added sugars.
  • Choose breakfast cereals with less sugar. Skip sugary and frosted cereals. Aim for less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Opt for reduced-sugar varieties of syrups, jams, jellies and preserves.
  • Choose fresh fruit for dessert instead of cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream and other sweets.
  • Buy canned fruit packed in water or juice, not syrup. Drain and rinse with water to remove excess syrup.
  • Snack healthy! Reach for raw vegetables and fruits, low-fat cheese, almonds, whole-grain crackers and low-fat, low-calorie yogurt instead of candy, pastries and cookies.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless. Check out our healthy driven recipes.

Need help losing weight? Learn more about our Weight Loss Clinic.

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