Simply Sweet Without Added Sugar...(and why that's important!)
by Danica Crouse, RDN, LD
Take a look around in your fridge or pantry and you likely won't have to look very far before finding foods that contain sugar. Sugar can be naturally occurring, such as fructose in fruit or lactose in milk, or it can be added during processing and preparation.
Did you know?
The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar daily. This excess sugar intake contributes to risk for many health conditions and inflammation. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends less than 10% of calories come from added sugars. For a 2000 calorie diet that is about 200 calories or 12 teaspoons of sugar.
What food contains added sugars?
Many foods have added sugars, and it might surprise you that they are not only found in sweet foods. Added sugars can be found in items like pizza, crackers, condiments and more. Foods that are targeted towards children can be packed with added sugar as well. However, almost half of the added sugars in our diet come from beverages such as sodas, fruit drinks, smoothies, and other sweet beverages.
How do you know if a food has added sugar?
1. Be sure to read the ingredient list. Sugar can be disguised under a variety of names including: corn syrup/high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, rice syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose.
2. Check the Nutrition Facts label to see how many grams (g) of added sugar are in the product. You may notice some foods still have sugar and carbohydrates but no added sugar (like the Sweet Nothings smoothies). This means that the sugars are naturally occurring in the ingredients. Although you should aim to keep total sugar intake reasonable, the ingredients providing the natural sugar can also be a great source of fiber (which helps to stabilize blood sugars!), vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Sugar intake leads to extra calories without any real nutritional benefit. It's better for you and better for your family if you have added sugar in moderation. To cut back on added sugar, try swapping your sweetened beverages for water and Sweet Nothings smoothies for a snack or dessert.