Americans are consuming too much sugar. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the average American has about 43 teaspoons of sugar each day, which amounts to around 700 calories per day.
Excess sugar intake contributes to serious health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. We’d all like to cut back on sugar, knowing the risks, but doing so is easier said than done—sugar is everywhere we look, and in plenty of foods and beverages you wouldn’t expect. Here are six tips that can help you reduce your sugar intake:
- Read the Labels
The sources of sugar are not always obvious. You’ll find excess sugar in unexpected products such as bread, granola bars, and even canned soup. Look for sugar by some of its other names: high-fructose corn syrup, cane juice, maltose, dextrose, etc.
- Look at the Serving Size
As long as you’re reading the label already, look at the serving size. You may find that a packaged food claiming to be low in calories comprises four or five high-sugar servings.
- Watch What You Drink
Everyone knows candy and desserts are stocked with sugar, but we don’t pay as much attention to the things we drink. Some beverages, especially sodas, are very high in sugar. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthier alternatives that can still satisfy the taste buds. Try sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or water with mint or cucumber, or just get used to drinking plain old water—it’s free and has zero calories.
- Try Other Natural Sweeteners
Giving up sugar is difficult, especially if you have a sweet tooth, but natural sweeteners can still scratch that itch. Unlike artificial sweeteners, these natural products may actually be good for you. Here are three popular choices:
- Stevia: This natural substance comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has almost no calories and may help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Erythritol: This substance has just a fraction of the calories found in sugar, but it tastes much sweeter.
- Xylitol: This sweetener occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables.
- Shop Carefully
It takes a lot of willpower to avoid sugar, especially when there are lots of sugary drinks and snacks all around you. When you get in the habit of reading labels at the grocery store, you’ll get better at saying no to the bad stuff.
- Sugar Isn’t All That Matters
A medium-sized orange may have more sugar and calories than a doughnut hole, but the orange is still the better choice—in addition to sugar, an orange includes a lot of water, fiber, and vitamin A, and a big dose of vitamin C. The food with the least amount of sugar is not always the best option.
Reducing your sugar intake may not be easy, but it will make an enormous positive impact on your overall health. Put these tips to work today and you could be in better shape tomorrow.