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The Truth about Hidden Sugars: A Risk for Health

Course Number: 558

Strategies to Reduce Sugar

Sweets can be enjoyed in moderation. Just be aware of added sugars elsewhere in your diet, such as in drinks, breads, cereals, salad dressing, condiments, and sauces.

Sugar Fact #5

Liquid sugar in drinks is the single largest source of added sugars in the American diet.5

  • Energy drinks, soft drinks, and fruit juice are prime sources of liquid carbohydrates that contribute to extra calories and weight gain with little or no nutritional benefit. In fact, the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions continue to plague our population by this industry alone. The average sweetened beverage provides about 150 calories, usually from high-fructose corn syrup, which is equivalent to 10 teaspoons of table sugar.1


    Instead, enjoy herbal teas or carbonated water with fresh lemon in place of fruit juices. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to coffee in place of added cane sugar. Recent studies show cinnamon may lower both cholesterol and blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics.

  • Choosing whole, unprocessed foods, with a limited ingredient list, is a great way to avoid consuming added sugars unintentionally. Whole fruit, steel-cut oats, plain Greek yogurt are healthier breakfast choices compared to ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, bars and pastries, yet are still convenient.

  • Avoid low-fat ‘diet’ foods which tended to be higher in sugar. Instead, consume smaller portions of the regular version.

  • Be aware of ‘sugar-free’ foods which may contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. Although these products taste sweet, they may send a confusing message to the brain and may cause overeating.8

  • Balance your lean proteins and carbohydrates to help manage food cravings; consuming legumes, low-fat dairy and meats with whole grains can help slow digestion and improve satiety.

  • Reduce sugar in recipes by adding spices to boost flavor while adding nutritional value; cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and vanilla all have additional health benefits.

  • Snack on fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, string cheese or plain yogurt to balance blood sugar and energy levels.

  • Swap simple, refined carbohydrates for complex whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, and pasta.

  • To reduce the risk of dental caries from sugars, end a meal with a protein or fat to raise the pH of the oral cavity above 5.5. Nuts, cheese, or a slice of turkey can offset the negative effects of fermentable carbohydrates.

  • Pay attention to sugars in alcohol, especially ciders, fruity cocktails, and rich spirits such as sherry. The best option is a dry red wine; it contains approximately 2-3 grams of sugar and the added benefit of Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant.