Most added sugars are hidden in processed and packaged foods, so it's important to know how much is in the foods you buy. You can read the Nutrition Facts labels to determine how much sugar you're eating per serving (find out how much sugar you can have each day).
Sweetened soft drinks, pastries, cookies, candy bars, syrups, jams, jellies, and pre-sweetened breakfast cereals are all obvious sources of added sugars. However, other foods such as salad dressings, flavored yogurts, instant oatmeal and fruit smoothies can also be high in added sugars. Look at the ingredients list for these following words:
- Brown sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn sugar
- Corn syrup
- Raw sugar
- Turbinado sugar
If you love your sweets, it might be difficult to give up the added sugars at first (especially during the holiday season). Swap out your cookies and cake for fresh fruit and berries, and drink sparkling water or diet soft drinks. Add fresh fruit to plain yogurt and cereal.
You don't have to give up added sugars completely -- you can still have one small piece of chocolate every day, or one cup of soda, or maybe even a small ice cream treat. Just be sure to watch your portion sizes. Here are more tips for cutting out the sweets: Change Your Diet: Slash the Sugar.
What if you don't get enough sugar? You probably don't need to worry about that -- unless you're underweight -- your body can make glucose from protein by a process called gluconeogenesis.
American Heart Association. Carbohydrates and Sugars. Accessed April 20, 2010. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4471
Johnson RK, Frary C. "Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars: the 2000 dietary guidelines for Americans--what's all the fuss about?" J Nutr. 2001 Oct;131(10):2766S-2771S.
Journal of the American Medical Association. "Caloric Sweetener Consumption and Dyslipidemia Among US Adults." Accessed April 20, 2010.
United States Department of Health and Human Services and United States Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. 6th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, January 2005.