There are many reasons to reduce the sugar in your diet. Keeping your teeth healthy and cavity-free is just one of them.
Reducing the amount of sugar you consume can help you lose weight because sugary foods are higher in calories. Consuming sugary foods can make you hungry more quickly because of changes in your blood glucose — spikes followed by sudden drops can make you hungry, shaky, and weak, and cause mood changes.
Your heart and brain will also thank you for a reduced sugar intake. Sugar that doesn’t get used as energy turns into fatty acids that become triglycerides, a type of fat that circulates in your blood. High levels of triglycerides can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. In addition, some research has shown that consuming too much sugar can negatively affect your cognitive abilities, such as learning and memory, because of insulin resistance that causes damage to communication between brain cells. Sugar can also increase inflammatory stress on the brain, making it harder to think clearly.
So what are some easy ways to reduce the amount of sugar you consume?
- Read labels and choose foods that don’t have added sugars. Look for anything that ends in “ose” on product labels. These include sucrose, (the white table sugar that comes from sugar beets and sugar cane), fructose (found in fruit and honey), galactose (milk and dairy products), glucose (honey, fruits and vegetables), lactose (milk), maltose (barley), etc.
- Don’t add table sugars to any foods. This includes white and brown sugar, honey, syrup and molasses.
- Avoid sugary sodas and juices. Water is preferable, but if you are craving soda, choose diet soda.
- To add sweetness to foods such as cereal or oatmeal, fresh fruit is preferable. If you use canned fruit, choose fruit that is canned in water or natural juice, not syrup.
- When baking, try cutting the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1/3 or 1/2. It’s likely you won’t notice the difference in taste. You can also substitute unsweetened applesauce in recipes using equal amounts.
- Try using extracts such as vanilla, almond, orange or lemon instead of adding sugar in recipes. Or add spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or allspice.
There is no downside to reducing the amount of sugar you consume. Your heart, brain, body and teeth will all thank you!