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Not So Sweet: Lookout for Added Sugars

By Sara Butler

You are probably getting more sugar in your diet than you bargained for! Added sugar is in a lot of things, even things you wouldn't anticipate. That's why it's important to read nutrition labels and ingredients on the foods you buy to understand exactly how much sugar you're eating in a day. Here's what you need to know about added sugar and steps you can take to avoid it.

Sources of Sugar

There are sugars that occur naturally in a lot of foods that are actually good for you. Things such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and even dairy have sugars that don't have to be added -- they're just naturally sweet and delicious.

But there are other sugars added to drinks, foods, and condiments when they're being processed and made that aren't healthy for you. In fact, too many added sugars in food only increase your risk of heart disease -- the number one killer of Americans today.

Soda is a good example of the kinds of added sugars to avoid. One typical 12-ounce can have eight teaspoons of sugar in it. But beverages that you may think are healthier, such as fruit drinks, flavored milk, and sports drinks are full of added sugars too. In fact, drinks sweetened with sugar are the biggest source of added sugars in the American diet. Other sources of added sugars include ice cream, candy, and baked goods. Always be on the lookout!

How Much Should You Have?

Eating a balanced diet is going to include naturally occurring sugars, so sugar isn't something that can be totally avoided. What you need to pay attention to are added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends that people limit added sugars to six teaspoons per day, which is about 100 calories.

How to Spot It

The first step to limiting added sugar is to know where to find it. The easiest way is to read food labels. They should have the amount of added sugars clearly labeled, but you can also look for ingredients that are just other words for added sugars such as fructose, dextrose, syrup, cane juice, and high fructose corn syrup.

You can also keep your sweet tooth happy by incorporating more fruit into your diet and limiting the other, more traditional desserts to special occasions. Drink water or unsweetened tea at meals and enhance the foods you eat naturally with fresh or dried fruit as well as spices such as mint, cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Columbus, Ohio.

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