Craving sweets from time to time is natural. Too much sugar in your diet, however, increases the risk of weight gain, elevated triglycerides, poor nutrition and tooth decay.
The World Health Organization recommends that both adults and children keep their intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of daily calories (about 12 teaspoons of sugar). To get a handle on your sugar intake, it's important to become aware of the sources of sugar in your diet.
Start by reading food labels. Sugar goes by many aliases, including corn syrup, molasses, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, malt sugar and dextrose. Understand that natural sugar occurs in foods such as fruit, milk and plain yogurt. Added sugar is added to foods or beverages, either in processing (as in soda and flavored yogurt) or in preparation (as when you add sugar to coffee).
Recommendations about sugar consumption don't include foods with naturally occurring sugars because those foods usually contain other beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein.
Other helpful tips for cutting sugar consumption in your diet include:
- Investigate the sugar content of your favorite food. Minimize the amount of added sugar in your food selections, and be on the lookout for sweeteners.
- Buy and eat fewer processed foods. Purchase more whole foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and experiment with new recipes.
- Change your environment. Exchange the candy bowl at work or at home with a fruit bowl.