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Added sugars, which are essentially extra calories with no extra nutrition, are found in many prepackaged and processed foods. High levels of added sugar can lead to weight gain and other health complications. Many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy, naturally contain sugar. However, these foods also contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients to nourish your body, making them a better choice over added sugars. Here are 9 tips for cutting down on added sugars to improve your health and maintain a healthy weight.

  1. Cut out table sugar including syrup, honey, and molasses. Try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add to things like cereal or coffee by half and wean down from there.
  2. Swap out the soda. Try swapping out your soda for sparkling water or green tea, or try cutting down on your usual number of sodas per day.
  3. Eat fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruits in water or natural juice. Avoid fruit canned in syrup, especially heavy syrup. Drain and rinse in a colander to remove excess syrup or juice.
  4. Compare food labels and choose products with the lowest amounts of added sugars. Dairy and fruit products will contain some natural sugars. Added sugars can be identified in the ingredients list.
  5. Add fruitInstead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, try fresh fruit (bananas, cherries or strawberries) or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or apricots).
  6. Cut back on serving size. When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar called for in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Often, you won’t notice the difference.
  7. Try extracts. Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts like almond, vanilla, orange or lemon to add flavor.
  8. Replace sugar completely. Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar. Try ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.
  9. Substitute. Switch out sugar with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas in recipes (use equal amounts).

by Abby Wilkerson