Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Myth: All I need to do to cut down on the amount of sugar in my diet is drink less sugar-sweetened beverages.

Answer: BUSTED!

The recent 2010 Dietary Guidelines say that we should "significantly reduce" our intake of added sugars. Strong evidence shows that if we eat foods low in calories this improves weight loss and weight maintenance, and also may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in adults. Low calorie foods are also foods low in added sugar which make up about 16% of the total calories in American diets.

What are added sugars?
High fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose

The major sources of added sugars in our diets are soda, energy drinks and sports drinks, desserts like granola bars, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, flavored yogurts and candy, but there are other foods that have sugar in them.
  • Baked beans: up to 21 grams of sugar per half-cup (teaspoons of sugar)
  • Fat-free fruit cookie: 12 grams of sugar per two-cookie serving (3 teaspoons of sugar)
  • Slim shake in a can or bottle: 18 grams of sugar (4½ teaspoons of sugar)
  • Some salad dressings: 5-8 grams of sugar for 2 tablespoons (1-2 teaspoons of sugar)

Some alternatives to the choices above:
  • Buy foods without sauces and add your own seasonings. Start with any kind of canned or cooked beans, add apples and winter squash like butternut or acorn squash which add a sweet flavor. Cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg will also add a sweet flavor. Try getting used to a less sweet taste by mixing some baked beans with regular beans.
  • Reach for a naturally sweet fruit instead of cookies or slimming shakes. Fruits are high in fiber, which will fill you up, and low in calories.
  • Try balsamic vinegar instead of salad dressing. The tart flavor of balsamic vinegar is a nice combination with mandarin oranges, strawberries or blueberries when added to salads.
For more information about added sugars, see on the MissouriFamilies website.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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