In the U.S., adults consume an average of 17 teaspoons of added sugar each day, which is more than two to three times the recommended amount for men and women, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Sweetened beverages, desserts, and snacks are some of the top culprits of sugar. Overconsumption can lead to health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For a longer, healthier life, it’s important to be aware of the added sugar we’re consuming — and cut back where we can. Here are some ways to do that.
Read the Label
Check the nutrition label for the line item labeled “added sugars.” The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025” recommends that people limit added sugar to less than 10% of their total daily calories. As an example, if you consume 2,000 calories each day, that would be 200 calories or 50 grams of added sugar. However, the AHA recommends a lower amount: 100 calories max (25 grams) for most female adults and 150 calories max (36 grams) for most male adults.
Reduce or Eliminate Table Sugar
If you keep packets of sugar on the table, move it to a cabinet. This makes it harder to overindulge because it’s less accessible. Reduce the amount you use whenever you add sugar to your favorite beverage. For instance, add only half a packet of sugar to your coffee or iced tea instead of a full packet.
Swap Soda for Water
One, 12-ounce soda typically contains more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar (roughly 160 calories). That already puts you past the AHA recommended daily limit for females and at the threshold for males. Replace soda for water garnished with slices of fresh cucumbers, lemons, or oranges. It tastes refreshing and will help keep you hydrated throughout the day.
Eat Fresh Fruit or Canned Fruit in Its Own Juice
Fruit provides essential nutrients that many of us may not get otherwise, such as potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and folate. However, when those fruits are packaged with heavy syrup, the nutritional value decreases and the added sugar increases. For greater nutritional value, choose fruit packed in its own juice or — best of all — fresh fruit.
By following these tips for cutting back on added sugar, you’ll be lowering your risk of certain diseases and making strides toward a healthier life.