Sweeten your Holiday Season Differently

It’s no surprise that too much sugar is bad for us. It can be especially tough in this season of temptation to remember that overload can produce obesity, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and cardiac arrest.

And the more you eat sugar the more you crave it, experts says. Major culprits are soft drinks, cakes, pies, chocolate, fruit drinks and desserts.

There is a push on to cut the percentage of sugar in packaged foods and beverages. A team from the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found cutting 20% of sugar from packaged foods and 40% from beverages could prevent 2.48 million cardiovascular disease events, 490,000 cardiovascular deaths and 750 diabetes cases in the U.S. over the lifetime of the current adult population.

Until that happens, though, here some tips from the American Heart Association to use at home this and every other season:

Baking and cooking

Experiment a bit and adjust recipes to the taste and texture you like by using unsweetened applesauce to replace some of the sugar called for in a recipe. Try using no-calorie sweeteners suitable for cooking and baking. Consider using less oil, as well.

Desserts and sweets

Bake, grill, stew or poach fruit and enjoy its natural sweetness. Fresh, frozen and canned (in its own juice or water) all work well.

Snack mix and granola

Again, make your own without all the added sugars. Mix your favorite nuts and seeds (very lightly or unsalted), raisins and unsweetened dried fruit rolled oats and whole-grain cereal (nonsugared/nonfrosted).

Soda/soft drinks

Instead of drinking these, spark and flavor up your still or sparkling water with mint, citrus, cucumber or a splash of 100% fruit juice.

Tea and coffee

Adjust your taste buds to appreciate less sweetness by gradually cutting back on sugars (including honey and agave syrup). Try adding such natural flavors as cinnamon, citrus, mint or nutmeg.