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Cut Down on Added Sugar to Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease

Last week, we mentioned that eating too much sugar increases your risk for heart disease. Today, let’s talk about how to cut down on sugar intake and reduce your risk! Some sugars, such as sugar found in fruit and milk, are naturally occurring and found in foods that are good for us. We’re going to focus on how to cut back on added sugar, the type that is linked to poor health.

What is added sugar and where can you find it?

Added sugar is exactly what it sounds like: sugar that is added to a food. This includes sugar that you use in a recipe or add to a food at the table (for example, sugar you add to your oatmeal or coffee). It also includes sugar in processed and prepared foods and beverages.

You can figure out if a food contains added sugar by reading the ingredient list on the food label. Be on the look out for these names for “hidden” sugar in processed foods and beverages:

  • high fructose corn syrup
  • malt syrup
  • cane sugar
  • brown sugar
  • caramel
  • sucrose
  • turbinado
  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • agave
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • And many more that you can find here

How much added sugar is too much?

The American Heart Association has guidelines for how much added sugar is too much. For women, the recommendation is no more than 6 teaspoons, or about 100 calories per day. For men, the recommendation is no more than 9 teaspoons, or about 150 calories per day. To put that into perspective, just one 12 ounce can of soda contains almost 10 teaspoons of sugar, or about 156 calories from added sugar. So one soda puts you over the recommended limit, not including the many other foods that contain added sugar, like desserts, candy, cereal, etc.

How can you cut down on added sugar?

Tame Your Sweet Tooth 

If you’re craving something sweet, try reaching for a piece of fruit or sugar-free gum instead of a candy bar or piece of cake. Over time, you will start to tame your taste buds and you will get used to eating less of the sweet stuff.

Sip Smarter

You wouldn't eat 40 packets of sugar, so why would you drink them? Thanks to the New York City Department of Health for creating this memorable public health campaign.

You wouldn’t eat 40 packets of sugar, so why would you drink them? Thanks to the New York City Department of Health for creating this memorable public health campaign.

Did you know that sugary drinks are the biggest source of added sugar in the American diet? Sugary drinks include soft drinks like soda or pop; fruit-flavored drinks (NOT 100% juice); sweet tea and coffee sweetened with sugar; sports drinks; energy drinks; and flavored milk like chocolate or strawberry milk. These drinks add lots of empty calories from sugar and have little nutritive value.

To cut down on sugary drinks, start small by cutting out just one drink per day. Swap your sugary drink for something non-sugary such as water flavored with slices of your favorite fruit or calorie-free drink mixes. Check this out for more ways to “rethink your drink”:

Coming up, we’ll talk about how you can cut down on added sugar in recipes you make at home. Check back to learn more!

Share with us: What’s your favorite way to sip smarter?