6 Swaps to Slash Added Sugars from Your Diet

By: Sally Kuzemchak, M.S., R.D.

These easy swaps can save you 65 grams (16 teaspoons) of added sugar. Plus, get the facts behind why you crave it, why it's unhealthy and where it hides.


More than half of all Americans say they’re trying to eat less sugar.
But it’s hard to quit something that tastes so good—especially when your brain is hard-wired to love it. In a study from Oregon Research Institutes, sipping a sweet milkshake caused the “reward center” of the brain (the part that floods the body with feel-good chemicals) to light up.
Related: Snacks to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with No Added Sugar
The more sugar the milkshakes contained, the more this brain region—the same one activated by drugs like cocaine—glowed.
So it’s no wonder that on average we consume double the recommended amount of sugar. The American Heart Association says women should have no more than 100 calories of sugar daily (about 6 tsp.), men no more than 150 calories (about 9 tsp).
But all sugars aren’t created equal when it comes to your health. Those guidelines single out only added sugar, the kind put in during processing and baking. For foods that contain natural sugars, like fruit and dairy, the beneficial nutrients outweigh the amount of sugar.
It’s also really hard to overeat natural sugars; it’s the ones added to processed foods that sneak up on you. If the FDA reworks nutrition labels as proposed to call out added sugar in products, it’ll be that much easier to make better choices.
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We’re still waiting, but until then, let these smart swaps help you cut down on your added sugar intake.

1. Salad Dressing

Swap Out: Honey mustard dressing (5 g added sugar in 2 Tbsp.) for ranch dressing (2 g added sugar in 2 Tbsp.)

Added Sugar Savings: 3 grams

2. Chicken Marinades

Swap Out: BBQ chicken (5 g added sugar in 1 piece) for Buffalo chicken (0 g added sugar in 1 piece)

Added Sugar Savings: 5 grams

3. Condiments

Swap Out: Ketchup (3 g added sugar in 1 Tbsp.) for yellow mustard (0 g added sugar in 1 Tbsp.)

Added Sugar Savings: 3 grams

4. Coffee Order

Swap Out: Mocha latte (18 g added sugar in 1 medium latte) for a plain latte (o g added sugar in 1 medium latte)

Added Sugar Savings: 18 grams

5. Morning Pastry

Swap Out: Chocolate chip muffin (43 g added sugar) for chocolate glazed donut (16 g added sugar)

Added Sugar Savings: 27 grams

6. Soup

Swap Out: Tomato soup (8 g added sugar in 1 cup) for chicken noodle soup (0 g added sugar in 1 cup)

Added Sugar Savings: 8 grams

Watch: How to Make a Healthy Smoothie Bowl

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