WOODBURY, Minn. -- Americans have quite the sweet tooth. Did you know, on average, we consume about 30 times more sugar than our ancestors did just over a hundred years ago?
Brenda Navin, a nutrition and fitness specialist with Woodwinds Ways to Wellness in Woodbury said, "They were cooking from scratch, eating more whole foods from the earth, not as many processed food like we do now."
Navin said in the late 1800's, Americans ate, on average, about five pounds of sugar every year. Now, she said, we consume, on average, 150 pounds of sugar per person per year, figures she said she got from the World Health Organization.
Navin said, "Our society is changed. We're really busy. We buy a lot of convenience foods and convenience foods have a lot of additional sugar added to them."
Navin said we should only be eating just 12 teaspoons of added sugars per day. That does not include sugars naturally found in fruits, vegetables and dairy.
She says soda is our biggest problem. By drinking just one 20 ounce bottle of pop, you exceed that daily sugar limit.
Many other beverages contain added sugar, like sports drinks, energy drinks and coffee concoctions.
But what are some hidden sources of added sugar?
Yogurt can be one. Navin said, "A lot of yogurts have so much sugar in them, it's as if you're eating dessert." So she said read the labels carefully to see which brands have less sugar.
Ketchup also contains a lot of sugar, as does BBQ sauce, salad dressing and other sauces.
Some nutrition bars, protein bars and breakfast bars can also contain a lot of sugar.
Navin said, "A lot of moms are sending their kids out the door with some of these bars thinking that they're really good and nutritious for them." She says some simply are not.
Some breads also contain sugar. Navin said, "A good goal is to have a piece of bread that has under three grams of sugar in it."
Navin said the low-fat craze of the '90's didn't help. She said, "When we took the fat out of products we added in sugar because when you take something out you have to add something in."
And once you eat a lot of sugar it can be a vicious circle. She said, "Our insulin level rises. It gives us energy. We feel really good. Our serotonin level rises. We feel great. Then the insulin brings our blood sugar down and we kind of crash and we crave more."
But Navin said, "When our insulin level continues to go up frequently throughout the day it also makes our bodies want to deposit fat." That she said can lead to diabetes, heart disease and it can decrease our immunity.
So to cut out some of the sugar, she recommends reading labels to find items with less sugar or no added sugar.
She says those who are addicted to soda may instead try sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice to add flavor.
Then she said gradually cut out of your diet as many processed and packaged foods as possible.
Doing that should dramatically reduce your sugar intake.
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