6 Swaps to Slash Added Sugars from Your Diet

By: Sally Kuzemchak, M.S., R.D.  |  January/February 2015
The facts behind why you crave it, why it's unhealthy and where it hides.
Watch: What Added Sugar Does to Your Body
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.
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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).
Don't Miss: How to Identify Added Sugars on Nutrition Labels
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.
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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.
We’re still waiting, but until then, let these smart swaps help you cut down on your added sugar intake.
2 Tbsp. honey mustard dressing: 5g vs. 2 Tbsp. ranch dressing: 2g
1 piece BBQ chicken: 5g vs. 1 piece Buffalo chicken: 0g
1 Tbsp. ketchup: 3g vs. 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard: 0g
1 medium mocha latte: 18g vs. 1 medium latte: 0g
1 chocolate chip muffin: 43g vs. 1 chocolate glazed donut: 16g
1 cup tomato soup: 8g vs. 1 cup chicken noodle soup: 0g