(BPT) - It’s no secret — consuming too much sugar can have a negative effect on your health. Sugar consumption is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay. According to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 30.3 million people have diabetes. November is American Diabetes month, which is a great opportunity to get your sugar habits in check. Follow these tips to lower your sugar intake and prioritize your health:
1. Start with unsweetened products
Instead of buying pre-sweetened yogurt, oatmeal packets or other processed foods, start with plain. For example, start with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey for sweetness — you'll likely use less than the amount in the pre-sweetened products. Additionally, be sure to buy the unsweetened versions of everyday staples, like applesauce and peanut butter.
2. Find a more nutritious substitute
Get creative with your favorite recipes. Try swapping granulated sugar for applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed prunes in baked goods to cut down on added sugar. Prune puree adds moisture and richness to a variety of baked goods. Consider the overall nutrition profile of what you're eating and go for foods with naturally occurring sugar that provide additional health benefits. For instance, a glass of prune juice or a fresh apple contains sugar naturally, but is also a good source of fiber and potassium, unlike a candy bar, which contains sugar without the health benefits.
3. Swap for a beverage option with less sugar
Try to avoid sugary drinks like soda and sweetened coffee beverages. Amaz!n Prune Light and PlumSmart Light from Sunsweet are great juice cocktail options that have three grams of fiber per serving but less sugar than the original version. PlumSmart Light and Amaz!n Prune Light contain fewer calories and sugar compared to full-sugar beverages, which can benefit people on sugar-restricted diets such as those who have diabetes. Less sugar and carbohydrates per serving means these juices provide great flavor without having as large of an impact on blood glucose levels.
4. Read ingredient labels carefully
Added sugars are hiding in many of your everyday foods. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell. Before placing an item in your cart, read the ingredient list closely to see if it contains added sugars. Corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses and sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose) are several ways that added sugar is disguised in an ingredients list.
5. Avoid sugar-loaded desserts
Too much sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike, leaving you feeling tired and craving more. If you have a sweet tooth, try a serving of fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit, dark chocolate or a glass of Sunsweet PlumSmart Light. Another great dessert option is this Peanut Butter and Plum Smoothie. These options will satisfy your sweet tooth without too much added sugar.
6. Select simple seasonings
Sauces and condiments like ketchup, barbecue sauce and chili sauce are common cooking basics, but you may be shocked to find some versions are full of sugar. Always read the label to make sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option. Try seasoning your food with fresher options like herbs and spices, yellow mustard, pesto or vinegars.