Cutting down on Sugar: 5 Ways to make Your Summer Sweeter

Of course an ice cream cone and a cold class of lemonade are favorite emblems of summer as little kids. Even as adults, we love a sweet cold treat in the heat of summer. And in a perfect world, in a perfect summer, we should allow ourselves these happy indulgences. But cutting down on sugar can have some great consequences.

As Mae West once said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” But in the case of added sugar, too much of a good thing can kill you. Though experts disagree about whether the fat or the sugar in the average American diet is responsible for our national obesity epidemic (according to the National Institute of Health, more than 35% of adult Americans are considered obese), we are not saying that sugar is lethal. Heart disease, however, is. It is the number one killer of Americans.

Here’s how it works, according to the Mayo Clinic:

“Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can inhibit blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues. Atherosclerosis is also the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. It can be caused by correctable problems, such as an unhealthy diet [re: too much added sugar], lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking.”

Cutting down on sugar is a very important part of improving your diet and your odds of steering clear of cardiovascular disease. Here are a few tips to get you started on less sugary, but possibly more sweet summer:

  1. Be on the look out for hidden added sugar in foods. Some of the obvious offenders are things like soda, granola bars, dried fruit, and energy drinks. But also be aware of added sugar in savory foods like BBQ sauce, pasta sauce, ketchup, and Chinese takeout.
  2. Read the label. All commercially packaged foods are required by law to carry a nutrition label so that consumers know what they are about to consume. Once you know and understand exactly what it is you are eating, you’ll be able to make informed, and hopefully better choices about what you eat.
  3. Beware of low-fat and ‘diet’ foods. They often contain extra sugar in place of fat to help boost flavor and texture.
  4. Know sugar by its pseudonyms. Here are just a few: corn syrup, corn syrup solids, date sugar, cane sugar, caramel, glucose, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, honey, brown sugar syrup, dextrose, and fructose.
  5. Kick the can. Soda contains tons of added sugar. OK. Not tons, but grams. A&W Root Beer contains more than 46 grams of sugar per 12 ounce serving! 7-Up has 37 grams, Coke has 39 grams. To give you an idea of what a gram is, one sugar cube contains about 4 grams. A can of coke contains almost 10 sugar cubes of added sugar. And unless you are a Belgian Draft horse who weighs 2,000 pounds, 10 sugar cubes is too many.

If you crave something sweet, reach for a Blossom Water – refreshing and lightly sweetened. Only 45 calories per 16 ounce bottle