Play it Safe with Sugar

April 19, 2011

Sugar is an ingredient that has been the center of a lot of debate lately; whether it’s a proposed soda tax, one of the main culprits of food addiction and more, sugar is a hot topic

Sugar is an ingredient that has been the center of a lot of debate lately. Whether it’s a proposed soda tax 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 for this high calorie, non nutritive sweetener. 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.

Are consumers wary of sugars? According to the Hartman Group, when moms were asked what products they avoid for their kids when sugar content is high – 62 percent said beverages, 58 percent said foods for school lunches, 55 percent said snacks and 49 percent said treats to eat at home. Although sugars are not harmful to the body in moderation, our bodies actually do not require sugars for optimal functioning.

The American Heart Association sets an upper limit for daily added sugar intake at no more than 100 calories for women and 150 for men. This is roughly 6 and 9 teaspoons respectively; or approximately 25.2 and 37.8 grams. For reference one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains eight teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories. Sugar is implied in heart disease, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, hypertension, diabetes, decreased immunity, general inflammation and more. SupermarketGuru commends the American Heart Association for calling out and recommending the limited intake of added sugars and their relationship to disease. The American Heart Association’s transparency is something all health organizations including governmental organizations should strive to replicate.

Here are some suggestion 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. To start, try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half and wean from there. Anther great tip is to remove sugar, and sweeteners from the table and possibly even you cupboard! Also try adding nutrient dense fruits including berries and bananas to sweeten naturally.

Buy fresh fruits or if your 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 your self off some of the sugar in your diet you will start to truly enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and even some vegetables!