2. Reduce your intake of added sugar.
Did you know that most of the added sugars that Americans consume come from beverages, such as soda, sweet tea, lemonade, sports or energy drinks, fruit drinks, coffee drinks and alcohol? When we take about added sugar, we mean extra sweeteners that are put into food that preserve food, entice our taste buds, and add extra sweetness. Natural sweetness in food can be enjoyed without adding more sugar or sweetners!.
Fruits and vegetables contain fructose, which is a natural form of sugar. Most foods that contain natural sugars are “nutrient dense” because they provide vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients that provide positive health effects with relatively few calories. Dairy products contain lactose, which is also a form of natural sugar.
Consuming added sugars can have negative health effects, potentially leading to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels), increased cardiovascular risk, increased Triglycerides, lower HDL’s, and increased risk of cavities in teeth.
One teaspoon of sugar has roughly 16 calories. While this may not seem a lot, it can add up quickly during the course of a day. The American Heart Association recommends the following limitations for added sugar:
- women limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons a day, which is about 100 calories,
- men limit added sugar to 9 teaspoons a day, which is about 150 calories.
- children ages 2-18, than 6 teaspoons
Children and teens should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks to no more than eight ounces, which is about one glass, weekly. The recommendations advise that children under the age of 2 years should not consume foods or beverages with added sugars, including sugar-sweetened drinks, such as juice.
3. Make half your grains whole grains.
Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet. Whole grains add fiber to your diet which helps your body to work regularly and remove waste. The dietary fiber found in whole grains may reduce blood cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Most whole grain products have about 80% more fiber than refined grains and many more vitamins and minerals. Choose whole grain products that have a 10-19% Daily Value per serving, an excellent source of fiber has 20% or more.