Ways to Reduce Sugar Consumption

Amy Kaczor, MS, RD, LDN

Grocery shopping in February brings the temptation of a plethora of red boxes of chocolate and candies lining the aisles. Luckily, there are many tips and tricks to cut down on your sugar consumption.

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The American Heart Association recommends 36 grams of added sugar per day for men and 25 grams for women. That is 9 and 6 teaspoons, respectively. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, especially since high sugar foods tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients. Weight gain can increase the risk of many chronic diseases and health issues. Added sugar includes sugars and syrups added during cooking or processing and often appear on nutrition labels as maltose, sucrose, brown sugar, white sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, to name a few.

Natural sugars, on the other hand, are just how they sound! They occur naturally in foods, such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk.

Often added sugars come from sugary beverages such as energy drinks, sweetened coffee beverages such as lattes, and soft drinks. Great alternatives to these sweet sips include sparkling waters, unsweetened teas, or water with a slice of fresh fruit, such as lemon. Another great option is a smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.

Fresh, frozen, or dried fruit is a great way to sweeten up cereals, oatmeal, and desserts. Canned fruit (when packed in water or juice instead of syrup) also works great! However, when it comes to baking, unsweetened cocoa powder, fruit purees, such as unsweetened applesauce, and natural flavors like vanilla are great add-ins to sweeten the deal! In addition, flavorful spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or mint will enhance your dessert’s flavor without adding to the sugar content.

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Some terms seen on food packaging and advertising are “Sugar-Free,” “Reduced Sugar,” and “No Added Sugars.” A product can be advertised as “Sugar-Free” when there is less than half a gram of sugar in each serving, so be sure to check the portion size! “Reduced Sugar,” or “Less Sugar,” means that the product has at least 25 percent less sugar in each serving than in a standard portion of a traditional variety of that item. Finally, “No Added Sugars” or “Without Added Sugars” means that the processing or manufacturing of the product did not contribute any additional sugar. These claims often entice the public to buy certain products but knowing how to read the sugar content on nutrition labels will enable you to become your own detective.

Amy Kaczor, MS, RD, LDN


American Heart Association (2018). Sugar. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar

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Part-time Registered Dietitian, Part-time Freelancer, Part-time Entrepreneur, Full-time Coffee Enthusiast. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter for subscriber-only content!

Chicago, IL

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