Health Tips for a Quality Life: Watch Your Sweet Tooth

July 7, 2017

We all know Americans are eating and drinking too much added sugar. This habit can lead to weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you are concerned about what sugar is doing to your health, here’s information you’ll want to consider.

What added sugar does to the body:

  • Foods with a lot of added sugar have extra calories. Added sugars are often found in baked goods containing butter, margarine or shortening. The combination of sugars with these solid fats sets the stage for:
    • Poor nutrition. If you fill up on sugar-laden foods, you skimp on nutritious foods containing vitamins and minerals.
    • Increased triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the bloodstream that may increase your risk of heart disease.

Sugar by the numbers:

  • An adult’s added sugar intake should be less than 10% of their total daily calories. For example, in a daily diet of 2,000 calories, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars.
  • Americans eat or drink 22 teaspoons of added sugars per person per day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men.

Fast ways to reduce added sugars:

  • Read the label. Added sugars are called by many names, including:
    • Brown sugar
    • Corn syrup
    • Fructose
    • Molasses
  • Toss out the table sugar. Cut back by half the amount of sugar you add to foods or beverages and taper down from there.
  • Swap out the soda. Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages. Water is always the best choice.
  • Eat fresh, frozen or canned fruits. Choose fruit canned in water or natural juice.
  • Cut back on the serving. When baking, use one-third or one-half the amount of sugar listed in the recipe.

Sugar alternatives you may not have tried:

  • Try extracts or spices. Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts like almond, vanilla or lemon. Or try ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • Try stevia. If you need that sugar taste, try sweeteners made from stevia, an herb that is 40 times sweeter than sugar.

For one-on-one support and education on improving your diet, call a QCARE health coach at 800.228.7111.*

*Plan benefits vary. Check with your plan administrator.