The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. But the average American gets way more: 22 teaspoons a day (88 grams).
Sugar adds calories to our food with no additional nutrients or vitamins. Too much sugar can lead to many conditions including heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Natural sugars, on the other hand, are fine to consume in moderation and are not counted as “added sugars.” These natural sugars are found in foods that also provide water, fiber, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, including fruit and milk.
What can you use instead of sugar? Sweeteners from natural sources such as maple syrup, molasses and honey can be less harmful than refined sugar and contain some nutrients. Other natural sugar substitutes are available such as stevia, xylitol and erythritol. You should research the food ingredients before deciding on what sugar alternative is best for you.
Good food choices to satisfy the sweet tooth:
- Fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas, grapes
- Berries of any sort (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
- Dark chocolate (more than 70% cocoa)
- Whole food snack bars
- Protein shake with fruit added
- Sugar-free chewing gum or mints
- Legumes (these help increase feeling of fullness)
- Dates and prunes
- Sweet potatoes