We are born preferring sweet tastes not bitter and sour tastes. This is the reason why children rarely say no to candy while refusing to eat broccoli. Bitter flavors indicated that a plant might be poisonous and sour ones prevented us from eating spoiled calories. Our taste buds saved us from fatal outcomes. But are we eating way too much sugar?
What is too much sugar?
Americans get about 17 teaspoons or 68 grams of sugar a day from ingredients like table sugar, honey, corn syrup, and other sweeteners. Here’s an example of how sugars add up in a day:
Breakfast: coffee with 3-4 spoonfuls of sugar or another sweetener and a croissant, or a bowl of sugary cereal.
Lunch: a fried chicken sandwich with a whole-wheat bun, medium fries, and a large soda
Snack: a large *apple
Dinner: baked salmon with teriyaki sauce, brown rice, green beans, and fruit juice
Dessert: a bowl of vanilla ice cream
Which foods including beverages have added sugars? Did you guess: coffee, croissant, sugary cereal, whole-wheat bun, soda, teriyaki sauce, fruit juice, and vanilla ice cream
*Natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are not considered added sugars. These foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients to keep us healthy.
Now, added sugar can be found in almost everything we eat. Added sugar is an ingredient in sweet and savory foods from condiments to sandwich bread. Looking for ways to reduce your sugar intake? Well, you’re not alone. Nearly 75% of Americans say they are too.
There are more than 60 names for sugar.
Know the Names for Sugar
To find out if your foods or beverages have added sugars, you can look for “added sugars” on the nutrition facts label or the ingredients list. An ingredient is an added sugar if:
- it has syrup (for example corn syrup, rice syrup)
- the word ends in “ose” (for example fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose)
- “sugar” is in the name (for example raw sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar)
4 Foods with Hidden Sugars
Most people are able to identify desserts and candy as having added sugar, but what about less obvious sources? Some foods that most people would consider “healthier” may actually have a lot of added sugar in them, such as:
- Breakfast cereal
Nutrition tip: Try to choose a cereal with 10–12 grams or less of sugar per serving. Granola and granola bars can be heavy sources of added sugars, so check their labels.
Nutrition tip: Try looking around and experimenting with other, less sugary yogurts. You can always get plain Greek yogurt or Skyr (an Icelandic-style yogurt) and add your own fruit!
3. Condiments & Sauces
Sometimes your food just needs a little extra flavor, but keep in mind that it might cost you in your sugar consumption. Ketchup, pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, salad dressings, and relish all have added sugars that mount up.
Sweetened beverages are the #1 source of sugar in the American diet.
Nutrition tip: Be careful and read the nutrition facts label when choosing carbonated beverages, flavored milks, plant-based milk substitutes, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
Satisfy Sweet Cravings
The more sugar you eat, the more it becomes a part of your daily routine such as having a sweet treat after a meal. Your brain looks forward to having that sweetness. The challenge is how do you reduce your added sugar intake and satisfy that sweet craving? Try eating these foods whenever you’re craving something sweet.
- frozen grapes, frozen banana, sweet cherries, pineapple chunks, fruit slices (fresh mango, pear, apple, or orange)
- fruit and nut bars with no added sugars
- dark chocolate (1-ounce bars or squares)
- plain Greek yogurt or Skyr yogurt with cocoa nibs or mini chocolate chips) and berries
- flavored sparkling waters
- water with cucumbers, lemons, limes
Take Your Time
It takes time to reduce the amount of added sugars consumed in a day. Start slowly. Take it one meal at a time. Do you add sugar to your coffee or tea? Then use a little less sugar tomorrow. A few days later, use a little less. You won’t notice the difference and over time your taste buds will notice when something tastes too sweet.