While it makes the things we eat taste wonderful, sugar can have lasting effects on many aspects of our health. Too much sugar in the diet leaves teeth exposed to bacteria that lead to cavities and other detrimental dental problems. To protect your teeth, here are five ways you can cut down on sugar.
Sugar hides in our food under different names: glucose, sucrose, fructose, hydrolyzed starch, molasses, corn syrup, and many others. In your efforts to cut down on sugar, keep an eye out for all its aliases. When we talk about high sugar content, we include volumes of 22.5g or more total sugar per 100g, while “low in sugar” generally indicates 5g or less per the same volume.
Ditch the Fizz
Soda is loaded with sugar. A 16oz can of soda contains the equivalent of 12 sugar cubes. In fact, the sugar in drinks—including soda, sweetened juices, and cordials—accounts for one quarter of the total sugar we consume. That makes it a pretty good target in the effort to cut down on sugar. That’s not even taking into account the fact that the acidic nature of carbonated drinks is also extremely abrasive on tooth enamel.
A better option for your teeth is drinking lots of water, which helps to flush out toxins and debris. However, if you are still looking for something sweet to sip, look for sugar-free drinks or natural juices. Even adding fruit to your water can sometimes satisfy a sweet tooth.
Replace the Fake
There are better ways to curb a craving for something sweet than the dessert counter or the candy aisle. Eating more fruit can help fill the sugar fix, but the sugars in fruits are not refined and are, therefore, better for the body. This also applies to other foods to which you would normally add sugar. If you often use sugar or syrup to sweeten your oatmeal, try adding raspberries or bananas instead.
Find Options with Less Sugar
We tend to load our foods with sugar in the United States. Even foods that you wouldn’t associate with sucrose, things like breads, pasta sauce, premade soups, and condiments, are pumped full of sugar during production. Look for brands and varieties that have lower sugar content. You can do this by comparing the labels and looking for the lowest sugar ratios. Be especially wary of added refined sugars. High fructose corn syrup is a red flag if you want to cut down on sugar.
Make the Switch
There are many, many substitutes for sugar. During food prep, you can use alternatives like unsweetened applesauce in equal amounts for structural purposes. To cut down on sugar but still preserve delicious flavor, the options are abundant. Consider using extracts like vanilla, orange, almond, or lemon. Sometimes spices can also do the trick. Try cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or ginger.
Just a Pinch
When baking, you can often get away with less sugar than a recipe calls for. Especially if you stick with the practice: the body grows used to lower sugar levels, so if you ever add the listed amount back in, it may be too sweet for your palette.
Beyond baking, add less sugar after the food is made. Spread less jam or marmalade on your toast. If doing less steers too close to losing out on your favorite flavors, opt for smaller portions.
You don’t have to remove sugar from your diet completely. Making a concerted effort to cut down on sugar can protect your teeth without compromising the sweetness in your diet. For more information, speak with your dentist to make a good plan for you.
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