From marinara sauce to peanut butter, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected products.
Many people rely on quick, processed foods for meals and snacks. Since these products often contain added sugar, it makes up a large proportion of their daily calorie intake.
Dietary guidelines suggest limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10% per day.
Experts believe that sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
Here are 10 reasons why eating too much sugar is bad for your health.
1. Can Cause Weight Gain
Consuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages, increases your risk of weight gain and can lead to visceral fat accumulation.
2. May Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease
Consuming too much added sugar increases heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and inflammation. High-sugar diets have been linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.
3. Has Been Linked to Acne
High-sugar diets can increase androgen secretion, oil production and inflammation, all of which can raise your risk of developing acne.
4. Increases Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
A high-sugar diet may lead to obesity and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
5. May Increase Your Risk of Cancer
Too much sugar can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for cancer.
6. May Accelerate the Skin Aging Process
Sugary foods can increase the production of AGEs, which can accelerate skin aging and wrinkle formation.
7. Can Increase Cellular Aging
Eating too much sugar can accelerate the shortening of telomeres, which increases cellular aging.
8. Drains Your Energy
High-sugar foods can negatively impact your energy levels by causing a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash.
9. Can Lead to Fatty Liver
Eating too much sugar may lead to NAFLD, a condition in which excessive fat builds up in the liver.
10. Other Health Risks
Consuming too much sugar may worsen cognitive decline, increase gout risk, harm your kidneys and cause cavities.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Excessive added sugar has many negative health effects.
Although consuming small amounts now and then is perfectly healthy, you should try to cut back on sugar whenever possible.
Fortunately, simply focusing on eating whole and unprocessed foods automatically decreases the amount of sugar in your diet.
Here are some tips on how to reduce your intake of added sugars:
§ Swap sodas, energy drinks, juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer.
§ Drink your coffee black or use Stevia for a zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
§ Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh or frozen berries instead of buying flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
§ Consume whole fruits instead of sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies.
§ Replace candy with a homemade trail mix of fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips.
§ Use olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings like honey mustard.
§ Choose marinades, nut butters, ketchup and marinara sauce with zero added sugars.
§ Look for cereals, granolas and granola bars with under 4 grams of sugar per serving.
§ Swap your morning cereal for a bowl of rolled oats topped with nut butter and fresh berries, or an omelet made with fresh greens.
§ Instead of jelly, slice fresh bananas onto your peanut butter sandwich.
§ Use natural nut butters in place of sweet spreads like Nutella.
§ Avoid alcoholic beverages that are sweetened with soda, juice, honey, sugar or agave.
§ Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients.
In addition, keeping a food diary is an excellent way of becoming more aware of the main sources of sugar in your diet.
The best way to limit your added sugar intake is to prepare your own healthy meals at home and avoid buying foods and drinks that are high in added sugar.
The Bottom Line
Eating too much added sugar can have many negative health effects.
An excess of sweetened foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, blood sugar problems and an increased risk of heart disease, among other dangerous conditions.
For these reasons, added sugar should be kept to a minimum whenever possible, which is easy when you follow a healthy diet based on whole foods.
If you need to cut added sugar from your diet, try some of the small changes listed above.
Before you know it, your sugar habit will be a thing of the past.