Eliminating "added" sugar from your diet is a challenging undertaking. Even products not thought of as sweetened, like bread and sauces, can be laden with sugar. Some of the worst culprits are low-fat foods. These sound like they should be good for us but when the fat is removed, it is often replaced with additional sugar. For this reason, I avoid low -fat foods like the plague - Just give me good healthy fat and cut out that evil sugar!
When it comes to packaged foods, reading the ingredients is a good start, but this villain comes in many guises. Watch out for words ending in "ose" like fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, and the all too common, high fructose corn syrup. Oh, and don't be lured by the phrase "sugar-free." This usually means the bad sugar has been replaced by an even worse artificial sweetener like aspartame. These have their own health issues (many still unknown) and should be avoided. When you want to add a little sweetness, raw honey, maple syrup, or coconut palm sugar are healthier choices - but don't go overboard - these are sweet treats and should be eaten in moderation.
The good news
Not all sugar is bad. Yup, there is a silver lining for your sweet tooth. The simple sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains won't impact your health negatively. These wholesome foods are packed with nutrients and fiber that your body needs and welcomes.
How much is too much?
The American Heart Association recommends that women stay under six teaspoons a day and men under nine teaspoons. This refers to added sugar and not the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and milk. Unfortunately, food labels don't yet distinguish between the two. Use these guidelines to help control your intake of added sugar:
Three steps to cut back on sugar