Added sugar refers to the sugar added to foods during manufacturing. These sugars contribute calories to your diet without the benefit of valuable nutrients. They provide a quick boost of energy, but that boost is always followed by an energy crash that leaves you worn out and craving more.
According to the American Heart Association guidelines, men should have no more than nine teaspoons (36g) of added sugar per day, and women should have no more than six teaspoons (24g). In addition to reducing your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, there are other easy ways to reduce added sugar throughout your day.
Cut the syrup in your coffee drink in half. One pump of flavored coffee syrup contains 5 grams of sugar. A medium-size drink has four pumps. That’s 20 grams of sugar to start your day! Ask for two pumps and you will cut your morning sugar intake in half!
Add the sugar to your cereal. Gain control over what you eat, and add your own sugar to breakfast cereal. Frosted cereals have about 15 grams of sugar per cup. One cup of plain corn flakes sprinkled with one teaspoon of sugar has only 4.2 grams of added sugar.
Sweeten foods with fruit. Fruit does contain natural sugar, but that sugar comes with vitamins and fiber. Use mashed bananas and unsweetened apple sauce in baking, oatmeal, and shakes. Instead of covering your waffles with pancake syrup (which contains 48 grams of sugar in ¼ cup), use fruit. Heat a ¼ cup of berries with a tablespoon of water to make syrup. If you want it a little sweeter, add a ½ teaspoon of sugar for only 2 grams of added sugar.
Flavor your own yogurt. Some flavored, low-fat yogurts contain 20 to 30 grams of sugar, and about half of this is added. Choose plain, non-fat Greek yogurt and mix in 1 teaspoon of honey for under 13 grams of total sugar.
Reduce condiments. Some barbecue sauces contain 15 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons. Use herb and spice rubs to give your meat flavor, and reduce the amount of sauce you use. Other condiments, such as ketchup, relish, and salad dressings, contain added sugar as well so read the nutrient labels and pay attention to how much you pile on.
Check canned food labels. Added sugar hides in many unexpected places, including pasta sauces. Some varieties contain 11 grams in a ½ cup of marinara. You can easily make your own sugar-free version by combining no-sugar-added tomato sauce, or pureed tomatoes with dried herbs and spices such as garlic powder, oregano, basil, and parsley. Choose fruits canned in natural juices instead of heavy syrup. One-half cup of crushed pineapple in syrup contains 22 grams of sugar while the same amount of crushed pineapple in natural juice contains 16 grams.