Healthy Eating Habits: Less Added Sugar

“Added sugar” is sugar put in food during the manufacturing process.

You can improve the quality of your diet and maybe shed excess weight by avoiding foods with a lot of added sugar.

The sugar level indicated on the Nutrition Facts section of a food label only refers to the natural sugars found in a product’s ingredients. Fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy items contain varying amounts of natural sugars.

Discovering added sugar in a product requires reading the label’s Ingredient List. Some added sugars will be listed by their chemical name which often ends with the letters “ose” (e.g., fructose, maltose, glucose, and dextrose). Other names for sugar are:

  • High fructose corn syrup, or corn sweeteners
  • Cane juice, or cane syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate, or nectars
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Malt syrup

Ingredients on a food label are listed by weight in descending order. So if there is a sugar listed within the first few ingredients, much has been added.

Seven Tips For Cutting Back On Added Sugar

Cutting back on added sugar is a good way to get the nutrition you need without accumulating empty calories.

  1. Instead of stocking the pantry with cookies, candy and other packaged sweets, keep a supply of healthier snacks on hand such as low-fat cheese, fruit, fresh veggies, nuts, seeds or whole grain crackers.
  2. Jams, jellies, syrups and some condiments come in low-sugar varieties. They are not artificially sweetened, but have less added sugar. (If a product label says “no sugar added,” it still contains natural sugars, but no sugar was added during processing.)
  3. Fresh fruit is a good alternative to sugar-loaded desserts, although even fruit should be eaten in moderation since it contains the sugar fructose. You might try dressing up some fruit slices with a sprinkle of dark chocolate shavings.
  4. Purchase canned fruit that is packed in its own juice or in water instead of syrup. You can also opt for buying frozen fruits.
  5. Avoid sugary sodas, sports drinks and blended coffee concoctions topped with whipped cream.
  6. Read the labels on breakfast cereals carefully and stay away from the sugary, frosted, less nutritious ones. Better yet, consider switching to oatmeal sweetened with fresh berries.
  7. If you purchase juice, spend the extra money to get 100 percent pure juice instead of a fruit drink full of added sugar.

The less added sugar we eat, the better off we are. As the body adjusts to consuming less sugar, our craving for sweets tends to diminish as well.

Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: alan madrid / flickr creative commons

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