Sugars make you fat and are a health hazard: here's how to reduce the quantities we consume every day
The 7 foods richest in sugar
Adopting a diet rich in sugars can have several negative effects on our health: it is a risk factor for the onset of diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and in some cases it can be related to an increased risk of develop some forms of cancer. We must pay particular attention to added sugars, those most difficult to recognize because they are present in many packaged products. Let's discover 12 scientifically proven tips to reduce sugar consumption with a healthy and balanced diet.
- Eat a low-sugar breakfast
- Consume whole foods
- Choose foods that are high in fat
- Watch out for sauces
- Choose really healthy snacks
- Reduce the amount of candy
- Beware of canned foods
- Eliminate sugary drinks
- Choose natural sweeteners
- Eliminate sugars from the pantry
- Read the labels carefully
- Go shopping after meals
Eat a low-sugar breakfast
Many love to have breakfast with cereals, but among the most common on the market there are several types that are particularly rich in sugar. A report by the Environmental Working Group has shown that some of the most consumed products (even by children) contain added sugars for over half their weight. Indeed, in one case there are 50 grams per serving – 12 coffee spoons.
Other foods to watch out for include pancakes, muffins and jams. For a healthy breakfast, it is much better to choose low-sugar products such as oatmeal, Greek yogurt or eggs: the high content of fiber and protein allows you to increase the sense of satiety and reduces the consumption of mid-day snacks.
Consume whole foods
Processed foods often contain additives, preservatives and artificial flavors, many of which are fully considered added sugars. Not to mention ultra-processed foods: these are products that are particularly rich in added substances, to make them more palatable and can be stored longer. These foods include many snacks, sweets and sugary drinks, but also fruit juices and prepackaged dishes.
It is good to considerably reduce the consumption of these products, preferring whole foods – that is, without transformation. In addition to not containing added substances, they are an excellent source of fiber: their presence guarantees better digestion and slower absorption of sugars, as well as increasing the sense of satiety.
Choose foods that are high in fat
Although it may seem strange, the choice between high-fat foods and their alternatives considered "light" should fall on the former. In many cases, in fact, the low-fat version contains significant amounts of added sugars and other substances that can even make the attempt to lose weight in vain. Without considering, in fact, how the added sugars affect our health.
So much better to opt for the high-fat version, paying attention to the portions: by moderating the consumption of these products, it will still be easier to lose weight and at the same time protect the body from the dangers of artificial additives which, as evidenced by a published study on Public Health Nutrition, they can lead to obesity and hypertension.
Watch out for sauces
Ketchup, barbecue sauce, spicy sauce: these are some of the most used condiments to flavor dishes of our kitchen, and it is very easy to overdo the portions. Not everyone knows, however, that these products contain unsuspected quantities of added sugars.
Among the healthiest options are mustard, fresh chilli and a wide variety of herbs and spices, able to give that extra touch to any course. Mayonnaise is also a possible choice: however, in this case you have to pay attention to the doses because it is particularly rich in fat.
Choose really healthy snacks
If by now all of us are aware that products such as biscuits and sweets are rich in sugar, it is equally true that many foods known as "healthy" have significant quantities of our white enemy. Cereal bars and dried fruit, for example, provide greater quantities than a classic chocolate bar.
For this reason, don't be fooled by the labels: if you want to have a really healthy snack, the best choice is a fresh fruit, or alternatively a small portion of dried fruit. Among the ready-made products, opt for those without added sugar.
Reduce the amount of candy
Consuming a dessert after a meal is a pleasant, but sometimes dangerous, habit. Many confectionery products are in fact rich in sugars and low in other fundamental nutrients: they therefore contribute to peaks in blood sugar, which in the long run can cause health problems.
The best alternatives are fresh fruit, Greek yogurt or a handful of dates, which have a very sweet taste and provide several important nutrients for the body. You could also opt for a small portion of dark chocolate, as long as it has a cocoa content equal to or greater than 75%.
Beware of canned foods
Foods such as canned legumes or pre-packaged fruit and vegetables are often present in our pantries: they are cheap, tasty and have a long shelf life, as well as being ready for consumption. However, they are also the richest products in added substances, which, as we have seen, can lead to the onset of various problems.
Among the characteristics to which to pay more attention is the presence of syrup or sugar in the list of ingredients. If you still want to use these foods, consider rinsing them thoroughly before consumption, to at least partially eliminate the added substances.
Eliminate sugary drinks
Fizzy drinks and energy drinks are among the products with the highest added sugar content. But fruit juices and smoothies also have significant quantities of them, at least in the versions most commonly found on supermarket shelves. The main problem, as highlighted in research published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, is that our brains don't recognize liquid calories in the same way as solid ones.
It is much easier to exceed your calorie intake by drinking sugary drinks, because they do not give the same sense of satiety as solid foods. We must therefore choose healthier alternatives: water, tea and coffee are the main options, but home-made fruit juices can also be fine.
Choose natural sweeteners
Giving up sugar is very difficult: some studies have found that there is a real addiction, and that the sudden interruption of a diet rich in sugar leads to the onset of withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and depression. However, there are natural alternatives that allow us to give a sweet taste to our diet without causing dangerous glycemic peaks.
Stevia is virtually calorie-free and is an excellent choice for those suffering from diabetes, while erythriotol and xylitol – naturally contained in fruit – have an almost zero glycemic index.
Eliminate sugars from the pantry
Having products rich in added sugar at home is a temptation to which it is too easy to give in. Especially in the evening, when our body seems to have a greater desire for sweet and starchy foods. To avoid falling into the trap, it would be best to remove all sugary foods from the pantry and refrigerator.
Instead, you can stock up on healthy snacks – be careful which ones to choose, as we saw earlier it's easy to make mistakes. And distracting the brain is a great way to reduce the craving for sweet: green light for activities such as reading, puzzles or crosswords, which keep the mind busy.
Read the labels carefully
Shopping is the most important time for our diet, since it is at the supermarket that we determine what we will eat during the week. Reading labels is perhaps a bit boring process, but it is essential for our health.
In fact, many unsuspected foods contain large amounts of added sugars, listed under names such as dextrose, syrup or maltose.
Go shopping after meals
One of the golden rules of perfect shopping: never go to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Many studies have shown that in this way it is easy to get carried away by the desire for less healthy foods, including those rich in sugar and those high in calories. Hunger affects our purchases not only in quantity but also in quality.
It is therefore better to shop after eating, to make more reasoned and balanced choices. And if you really can't, due to time constraints, make sure you have a healthy snack.