Have you heard the suggestions to reduce sugar in your diet? Why? And what does that even mean? Here’s the scoop.
Why Reduce Sugar?
Added sugars add calories. Excessive calories can lead to weight gain. For some people with diabetes, added sugars increase the carbohydrate content of foods which in turn raises their blood sugar. High blood sugar is a strain on the body with negative short- and long-term effects. Even for those not diagnosed with diabetes, excessive sugar consumption makes the body work harder, can cause inflammation and lead to increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Usually added sugars have little or no nutritive value. Meaning, they have no benefit for the body, contain little to no vitamins, minerals or essential nutrients. This is what is meant by the term “empty calories”. For Americans, added sugars usually come from baked goods and sugary drinks.
You can find Total Sugars and Added Sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel of food products. Here the FDA explains further on a sample Nutrition Facts Panel:
1. Total Sugars
Total sugars include sugars naturally present in many nutritious foods and beverages, such as sugar in milk and fruits as well as any added sugars that may be present in the product. There is no daily value for total sugars because no recommendation has been made for the total amount to eat in a day.
2. Added Sugars
Added sugars include sugars that are added during the processing of foods (such as sucrose or dextrose), foods packaged as sweeteners (such as table sugar), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices. They do not include naturally occurring sugars that are found in milk, fruits, and vegetables. The daily value for added sugars is 50 grams per day based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. (Your calorie needs maybe higher or lower depending on age and activity level and can be estimated at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/MyPlatePlan)
A product low in added sugars will have 5% daily value or less. A product high in added sugars has 20% or more of the daily value. You will find this in bold as the percentage next to added sugars on the nutrition facts panel.
The FDA explains further, “You do not have to entirely eliminate added sugars but keeping them in check is a good idea as part of a healthy diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that a limited amount of added sugars can be included as part of an overall healthy eating pattern that includes healthy choices from each of the MyPlate food groups (vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein foods). It is important to remember that added sugars is just one piece of information on the label. Looking at the ingredient list and reading all the information on the Nutrition Facts label can help you make the most informed choices.”
This is a recipe created by a participant in our Johnson County Diabetes Prevention Program. She was looking for a granola to add some crunch to her yogurt but found the calorie, sugar and fat content was too high for her liking in most recipes and products she found at the store with lower sugar were too expensive for the simple ingredients it contained.
Reduced Sugar Homemade Granola
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups un-sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
½ cup unsalted pecans
½ cup unsalted walnuts
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
Optional: 1 cup dried fruit (diced apricots, diced figs, cherries, cranberries)
- Clean work area & wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 325 degrees F if using a dark nonstick pan.
- Collect ingredients.
- Toss the oats, coconut and nuts together in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl.
- Pour the liquids over the oat and nut mixture, stirring with a spoon until the dry ingredients are coated.
- Pour onto a 13 by 18 rimmed sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until golden brown, about 45 minutes.
- Remove the granola from the oven and allow it to cool, stirring occasionally.
- Add the dried fruit if desired.
- Store the cooled granola in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Tip: The sliced almonds, pecans and walnuts this recipe calls for are the variety found in the baking isle of most grocery stores.
Learn more about our Diabetes Prevention Program & take the Pre-Diabetes quiz at: