Cut the Sugar, Improve Health
Sugar is an ingredient that has been the center of a lot of debate lately. Whether it’s a proposed soda tax, NYC's portion size ban, or even one of the main culprits in the latest research into food addiction, sugar is a hot topic – although most health authorities fail to set specific recommendations, some experts recommend women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons. (For reference one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains eight or more teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories.)
According to the American Heart Association, adult consumption of added sugars has been on the rise since the 80’s; a whopping fifty one percent in both women and men. According to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Americans consume about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, 3.6 times the recommendation for women and 2.4 times that for men.
Sugar is implied in heart disease, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, hypertension, diabetes, decreased immunity, general inflammation and more.
Here are some suggestions on how to decrease your sugar intake:
Cut back on the amount of added sugars you consume. This includes, coffee, tea, and breakfast items that you may add syrup or a teaspoon of sugar to (that might already be sweetened!). To start, try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half and wean from there. Another great tip is to remove sugar, and sweeteners from the table and possibly even you cupboard! Try adding nutrient dense fruits including berries and bananas to sweeten naturally.
Buy fresh fruits or if you're purchasing canned fruits make sure they are in water or natural juice; avoid those canned in syrup.
When baking treats, substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in equal amounts, or try cutting back on the sugar called for in recipes by one-third - you probably won’t even notice a difference.
Make your meals more interesting with nutrient dense, antioxidant rich spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Enjoying sweets doesn’t always mean relying on added sugars. Once you have weaned yourself off some of the sugar in your diet you will start to truly enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and even some vegetables!