Consuming too much added sugar, or refined sugar is much easier than you may think. You don’t need to guzzle soda or eat sweets regularly to consume too much added sugar. Added sugar is found in foods that are considered “healthy,” such as cereals, breads, granola bars, condiments, pasta sauces and even salad dressings. Keep in mind: eating foods containing natural sugar found in fruits, vegetables and dairy is part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Too much added sugar can cause long-term, detrimental effects leading to health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain and dental issues. Although it may seem like added sugar is everywhere these days, it is possible to limit the amount in your diet. Start by getting in the habit of checking nutrition facts labels. Not all labels are required to list added sugar, so if it’s not listed, be sure to look at the ingredient list to see if sugar is listed toward the top (the ingredients are sorted by weight). If so, try choosing an alternative food containing less sugar.

Tips for Replacing Added Sugar:

  • Choose unsweetened tea, coffee or water instead of flavored waters, bottled teas, juices, energy drinks, coffee beverages or packaged smoothies.
  • Choose plain or Greek yogurt and top it with fresh fruit instead of flavored yogurt.
  • When choosing cereal, look for options that contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Instead of eating prepackaged snacks, make your own trail mix with nuts and dried fruit (labeled 100-percent fruit).
  • Keep fresh fruit on hand at home and at work to avoid high-sugar convenience foods.
  • Watch out for condiments (e.g., barbecue sauce, ketchup). Many are loaded with added sugar.
  • Be careful of low-fat or diet foods. When fat is removed from foods, it’s often replaced with sugar.

Don’t forget that it’s OK to indulge and treat yourself to sweets on occasion. Remember, moderation and balance are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.