Updated: Mar 18
While most of us know that added sugars aren't the best thing for our health, it can be hard to ignore that sweet tooth when it comes calling!
It might surprise you to learn that Americans consume HUGE amounts of added sugars every day, on average 3 - 4 times the daily recommended limit. Did you know the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, which equates to just 25 grams? You be thinking, "no problem I will just avoid cakes, cookies and sugary sodas." But you may not know that added sugars are hiding in all sorts of every day foods? From condiments and restaurant entrees to a variety of dairy products and processed foods, yes even those items labeled as "healthy" may be loaded in sugar.
Here's the challenge. Added sugars = empty calories, and that excess of empty calories can pose all sorts of negative health consequences. The most obvious being weight gain. A diet high in added sugars spikes insulin levels, messes with metabolism, and those empty calories turn into belly fat, increasing risk of disease.
Ten reasons to cut back on the sweet stuff:
Lower blood pressure
Reduce bad cholesterol
Decrease risk of heart attack
Keep the blues at bay
Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes
Promote clear and healthy skin
Improve overall energy
Save your teeth (and gums!)
Stay mentally sharp and focused
Reduce future cravings
So how can you reduce added sugars without sacrificing taste?
10 tasty sugar swaps:
Honey: not only does a little go a long way, but in it's raw and natural form it is rich in antioxidants!
Maple Syrup: is another a little dab will do ya sweetener, it comes from plant sap and contains over 50 antioxidants!
Cinnamon: a subtle sweet yet spicy flavor adds some warm kick to anything from your morning coffee to oatmeal or baked goodies! And bonus - it's calorie free!
Unsweetened Applesauce: a great sub to use in your baked goods - instead of 1/2 C white sugar use 1/2 C applesauce in your next batch of cookies!
Pureed Banana: just like applesauce its a great swap for the white stuff and makes your baked goods taste rich and creamy while supplying some wholesome nutrients too - perfect not only for banana bread, but your next batch of cookies, brownies, DIY ice creams and smoothies too!
Raisins, Cranberries, Dates, Apricot: whether you puree or dice them dried, these little guys can add some flavor from tart to sweet to your baked goods as well as some essential vitamins, minerals and awesome antioxidants too!
Coconut Sugar: so you want to sweeten your baked good and these other subs just won't do...try swapping traditional white sugar with this sweet and full of potassium alternative! Often times you can even use a little less (refer to your recipe and apply sugar swap as directed from the package).
Lemon and/or Lime: tart maybe, but a hint of sweetness too! A mug of hot lemon water and a dab of honey in the morning is not a bad way to kickstart the day! Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to refresh your water, and for mixed drink lovers skip the sweet and sour mixers and save on empty calories by going with this fresh full of flavor alternative!
Milk: whether it's traditional cow's milk or an almond, hemp, rice, or coconut alternative (there are so many great options available now!) adding a splash to your tea or coffee can deliver great flavor with a hint of sweetness and even some essential vitamins and minerals all while saving you on empty calories....win/win!
Club soda: soda and fruit juice lovers rejoice - a great way to cut down on calories is by using this simple alternative! Sub up to 1/2 of the juice in your glass with a bit of bubbly or pour a glass of club soda and add a few slices of your favorite fresh citrus (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine) and enjoy a healthier spin on traditional sodas!
Are you are a woman who is ready to live healthier and happier, ditch the diet, and discover small steps that make a big impact so you can live a life you love in a body you are proud of? Come join me inside my women’s-only Facebook Group - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy women go for tips, tools and support so they can eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!