Avoid Added Sugar with 11 Easy DIY Recipes
Proposed guidelines of the FDA recommend limiting added sugar to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. That's not much. It's about the amount found in one can of soda, according to The New York Times. The American Heart Association, meanwhile, recommends eating even less sugar, 5 percent of daily calories.
Why cut back? In addition to weight gain and tooth decay, the NYT article describes new research that "suggests a high-sugar diet may have metabolic effects, separate from weight gain, that promote chronic disease by causing inflammation, insulin resistance and hypertension." A study published in JAMA detailed the benefits of cutting sugary sodas, fruit juices, and foods with added sugar from the diets of overweight children with fatty liver disease. As The New York Times reported, cutting out these added sugars "sharply reduced the amount of fat and inflammation in their livers."
The source of added sugar isn't always regular granulated sugar (sucrose), of course. Increasingly, it's high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which, because it's cheaper than sucrose, often replaces sugar in processed foods, from soft drinks to soups to salad dressings. When nutritionists say "added sugar," they're including sweeteners like HFCS and honey, too. And don't think regular sugar is healthier. Recent studies show that the adverse health effects of sugar and HFCS are essentially the same.
One quick way to shed added sugar from your diet is to kick soda to the curb. Almost half of the added sugar we drink comes from sugary drinks alone, including sports drinks and sweetened coffee and tea. But there are many other places where you might not expect to find added sugar; and yet, there it is. Say, in your prepared pasta sauces. Your salad dressings. And soups. Many processed foods contain so-called "hidden sugars" as flavor enhancers and preservatives.
The good news is, you can make a lot of these recipes at home and cut back on the sugar...or skip it entirely. Here are some delicious homemade recipes that will help you control the amount of sugar you and your family eat.
10 DIY recipes to help you avoid added sugar!
1. Granola Bars
Granola bars may sound like the healthiest thing on earth. But the healthy ingredients often hide behind a pile of added sugars. Make them yourself and you can control what's in there. This one calls for a reasonable amount of honey. Incidentally, the point here isn't that honey should replace refined sugar, but that the amount added is not excessive.
Marinades are another prime place for hiding sugar. Not in this recipe, though. Zero added sugar.
Sugar in tomato sauce? You bet. Actually, this tomato and meat-sauce recipe calls for a touch of sugar to balance the acid. Adjust (or eliminate) as you like.
Or try this tomato sauce. It has a splash of red wine, but no additional sugar beyond the sugars in the wine.
Surprise, store-bought baked beans include loads of added sugar. Make them at home and you can control how much sugar you add. This old-fashioned baked beans recipe features navy beans with dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce, sweetened with a touch of molasses, brown sugar, and ketchup. "This recipe was a hit," says CBURCHELL. "I reduced the sugar by half, and it was great!"
Have you read the labels on ketchup bottles? True, ketchup needs a sweet element. And this DIY version calls for a combination of maple syrup and coconut sugar. It also calls for prepared tomato sauce; so check the labels there for added sugar, too.
And while you're at it, double-up on that ketchup recipe...and use some in this recipe.
Or try a dressing that has zero added sugar.
Barbeque sauce is meant to be sweet. But you can still control how sweet is sweet. This one calls for ketchup and brown sugar. Adjust as you like.
Here's a mustard-based sauce. No ketchup. It's less sweet to begin with, though it does have some honey and brown sugar.
And this North Caroline BBQ Sauce is vinegar-based. It doesn't call for ketchup, it doesn't even call for sugar or honey. It's tangy all the way.
You knew this was coming. There's sugar in soup. And, yes, there's a little bit in here, too.