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Benefits of reducing intake of added sugar

I don’t know about you, but I certainly enjoy my dessert (yes, dietitians eat dessert too!)!

One of the important considerations in selecting your sweet treat (as well as selecting other foods) is to pay attention to the quantity of added sugar. Reducing intake of added sugar has a number of benefits.

Current recommendations for added sugar intake

The current recommendation is to consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.

With added sugars found widely in foods, including in items such as cereal, salad dressing, yogurt, and many processed foods, it is easy to exceed that guideline. However, the benefits of consuming a low-sugar diet are numerous.

These are just a few:  

Maintenance of a healthy weight

Foods with added sugar, such as cake, cookies, and sweetened drinks, often do not provide a feeling of fullness that helps with healthy weight maintenance.

In contrast, if you select a sweet treat with less added sugar, such as a low-sugar oatmeal raisin cookie, you will instead feel fuller given the fiber content. 

Fewer empty calories

If you are able to cut down on food with added sugar, your diet should naturally contain fewer empty calories. Empty calories provide energy but are of little value for health, as they do not provide nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Higher diet quality

Along the same lines, if you choose to consume sweet foods with naturally occurring sugar rather than added sugar, such as fruit, your diet will be richer in important components such as vitamins and minerals.

Foods such as fruit with naturally occurring sugar are also an important source of antioxidants, which play a role in disease prevention. 

Less intake of food additives

If the added sugar in your diet is coming from processed foods such as candy bars and soda, another benefit of reducing your intake will likely be the reduction in intake of other potentially undesirable ingredients.

Such processed foods are often made with artificial color and preservatives. Questions still remain regarding whether consumption of ingredients such as synthetic food colors may produce adverse health effects. 

Choosing foods with no added sugar is a positive step for health. A great example of a food that will still satisfy your sweet tooth without contributing added sugar is fruit. As a health-conscious and dessert-loving dietitian, I often choose dried fruit, as it is particularly sweet and satisfying, and eat this along with some dark chocolate with very little added sugar. Other times I may choose sweeter treats, but try to select those that come along with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Here’s to enjoying a high-quality sweet treat for a sweet life!  

Have questions? Comments? I would love to hear what you think below!

Jinan Banna
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