The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently recommended reducing added sugar consumption from the current 16% of calories to 10% of total calorie intake. This would help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and obesity.
Naturally-occurring sugar found in fruit or milk isn’t the problem. Instead, it’s the sugar we add to hot beverages or sprinkle on fruit or oatmeal. The majority of our added sugar intake comes from sweetened beverages and is also hidden in many processed foods.
Use these 11 tips to reduce your added sugar intake.
- Replace sweetened beverages with plain water. Flavor water with slices of lime, lemon, cucumber, strawberries, or oranges for a delicious, thirst-quenching drink without added sugar.
- Instead of flavored milk, which contains 3 teaspoons of added sugar per cup, make a smoothie using low-fat milk and frozen fruit with no added sugar.
- Look for 100% fruit juice instead of fruit “drinks” or “beverages” that contain added sugar.
- If you’re a fan of commercially-prepared smoothies, ask for the list of ingredients to make sure there is no added sugar. Save money and avoid added sugar by blending your own beverages.
- Use milk instead of a flavored creamer if you can’t start your day without coffee.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit instead of candy. Freeze grapes or blueberries for an intense burst of sweetness.
- Swap donuts, sweet rolls, and pastry for whole grain toast or English muffins topped with 100% fruit spread.
- Replace ice cream, sherbet, or frozen yogurt with a homemade frozen treat. To make it, simply blend fresh fruit with plain yogurt and freeze.
- Energy and granola bars sound like healthful foods, but read the list of ingredients and you’ll find several sources of added sugar. Replace commercial bars with homemade trail mix.
- Breakfast cereal is often loaded with added sugar. Choose plain oatmeal and flavor it with fresh or frozen fruit. Add a dash of cinnamon, ginger, or vanilla extract for even more zing.
- In your quest to reduce added sugars, avoid the trap of switching to sugar substitutes. Retrain your taste buds to enjoy the naturally-sweet taste of foods without any type of added sweetener and you’ll start to notice food flavors that were previously swamped by sugar.
By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CWC
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.