Last week our Wellness feature shared a handful of tips on effective ways to reduce salt in your diet and improve your health in areas such as blood pressure and kidney function. This week, we turn our attention that other flavorful white crystal that can also create health problems … sugar.
Sugar is truly addictive and the cause of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer. According to the American Heart Association, the average adult American consumes almost 66 pounds of sugar each year. Here are some simple steps to take today, to start cutting back on the amount of sugar you ingest.
Get off to a great start. Try products like oatmeal or natural grain products to begin your day, instead of processed cereals that often contain sugar. If you have a desire to sweeten your breakfast consider fruit toppings, rather than a teaspoon of sugar.
Replace sugared beverages. Water is your best choice and 100% juice products are a good alternative. Try to avoid soft drinks and fruit-flavored drinks. Both tend to be loaded with sugar. Diet and low calorie drinks are better options than “regular” versions.
Store your sugar supply. As suggested in our column about salt, remove sugar, syrup and honey from the kitchen table and other places that are easily accessible. A sprinkle of sweetness in products like pancakes, coffee or tea, can often be a force of habit, rather than a flavor enhancement. At the very least, try to gradually reduce your reliance on sugar-related products.
Read & translate. Check labels for products before purchasing and get to know other terms that often equal added sugar. They can include corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup and any word ending -ose, such as dextrose, fructose and glucose.
Substitute smartly. Look for spices such as cinnamon or ginger that can be used as sugar replacements as toppings. Extracts such as vanilla and lemon can be good alternatives in baking recipes, as can unsweetened applesauce in many cases. Generally speaking, when baking desserts, you can also reduce the amount of sugar in recipes by as much as 50% and not affect the flavor.
With salt, sugar and other unhealthy dietary habits, remember that a simple step in the right direction, is always a good start. Work on gradually reducing harmful intakes and experience gradual, but noticeable results.