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Learn To Cut Down On Added Sugars

High added sugar intake has been linked to everything from obesity to heart disease to diabetes to other health conditions. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugars are those sugars added to foods to add sweetness and calories, but not add any additional nutrition. It is recommended to limit added sugars to no more than 10% of your total caloric intake daily, which is about 12 teaspoons a day. But let’s not obsess over teaspoons or grams, instead let’s focus on reducing foods that have added sugars. Added sugars are not to be confused with natural sugars which are sugars found in foods such a dairy, some vegetables, and fruit. Instead, you may find added sugars at home in your food preparation or they may be in highly processed foods purchased at the grocery store.

How can you tell if foods contain added sugars? When purchasing a food with nutrition labeling, there are two ways. The first way is to look at the list of ingredients. Some common ingredient names include cane sugar, beet sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, and of course honey. Recently, there have been some changes to the nutrition facts panel on your food labels to include a line for “Added Sugars” in your food. This not only tells you that there are added sugars in your food, but also tells you how many grams and what percent of an average 2000 calorie diet. Foods that may contain added sugars include cereals, baked goods, flavored yogurt, granola bars, pasta sauce, canned fruit, applesauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, salad dressing and other condiments. You may also be preparing foods at home with added sugars such as a stir-fry sauce with brown sugar, oatmeal with honey added, and a variety of baked goods.

You can still have foods and drinks with added sugars, just choose smaller portions or choose them less often. Other ways to reduce added sugars include the following:

¯ choose fruit for dessert instead of cakes or cookies;

¯ use fruits or naturally sweet vegetables in cooking and baking to sweeten your foods instead of added sugars;

¯ use half the sugar called for in your baked good recipes;

¯ choose water instead of sugar loaded beverages;

¯ choose canned fruit in juice and choose unflavored yogurts and milks.

To learn more about healthy eating and following the Dietary Guideline Recommendations, contact the Office for Aging to find out about SHINE (Senior Health Improvement and Nutrition Education) workshops near you.

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