Did you ever hear the old saying "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"? Perhaps too many Americans have tried to follow this message. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics show that the average American consumed 132 pounds of sugar or thirty-three four pound bags in 2010. This large amount of sugar intake can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, dental cavities and other chronic diseases.
The cost of sugar is not inexpensive. Last year, the average American paid 74 dollars for sugar. By cutting back on sugar, we can save money and decrease risk for disease. Sometimes it is hard to tell how much sugar is in a food item, especially when shopping on a budget:
• Look at the nutrition facts label to find out how much added sugar is in food.
• Ingredients ending in the word "ose" are forms of sugar (sucrose, fructose, dextrose). Corn syrup, agave nectar, cane juice, honey, and molasses all increase sugar content.
• Ingredients are listed in descending order. Choose foods that have sugar ingredients listed near the end of ingredients.
• "Reduced fat" foods often have increased amounts of sugar to make up for the fact that the fat has been reduced. Always verify the health-fulness of foods by comparing nutri-tion facts labels.
• Drink fewer regular soft drinks. Switch to "diet" versions or drink water with lemon.
• Keep away from sweetened breakfast cereals. Have yogurt and fruit or a homemade breakfast smoothie sweetened with fresh or frozen berries.
• Foods like jelly and ice cream are loaded with added sugars. Look for "all fruit" spreads and "no sugar added" ice cream.
• Your diet should consist of plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.
• Sweeten naturally when possible. Use spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. Enhance flavor by using the zest from an orange or lemon. Buy plain yogurt and add dried or fresh fruit to sweeten the taste.
By checking for the sugar content on nutrition facts food labels and using simple strategies in put lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean mean into your daily eating plan, you will be able to cut back the amount of sugar in your diet and be on the road to better health.
Carolyn McDowell, CEA-FCS
Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service
San Saba County Courthouse
500 East Wallace Street, Ste 102
San Saba, TX 76877