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Those Sweet Extra Calories

5 Simple Ways to Cut Back on Sugar

The Problem With Sweeteners

The main problem with sugar and other sweeteners is that they provide little more than calories and can displace other foods that contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that fight disease.

The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total calorie intake. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005 Dietary Guidelines put sugars into the "discretionary calorie" group -- those relatively few calories you have left over after you've eaten all the recommended foods.

The Sugar Association wants the Food and Drug Administration to require more stringent labeling of sugars and artificial sweeteners, similar to the required labeling for trans fats that takes effect in January 2006. The industry group believes that if consumers become more aware of the type of sweeteners used in their foods, they may choose to enjoy more simple table sugar at just 15 calories per teaspoon.

Recent data show that Americans are steering away from table sugar. USDA figures show that consumption of sucrose has gone down by 40% over the past 30 years, from 95.7 pounds per person in 1974 to 61.9 pounds in 2005. At the same time, use of artificial sweeteners as well as high-fructose corn syrup has been on the rise.

Simple Ways to Cut Sugar Calories

The bottom line is that if you want to control calories, you should limit added sugars of all kinds, including high-fructose corn syrup. Here are five simple ways to cut back on sugar calories:

  • Drink fewer sweetened soft drinks.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet fruits, fresh or canned in fruit juice.
  • Buy only 100% fruit juice that is not sweetened.
  • Instead of sweetened beverages, enjoy sparkling water with lime and/or a splash of fruit juice.
  • Choose unsweetened, whole-grain cereals and cereal bars.
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Reviewed on October 20, 2005

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