The verdict is in: Sugar is out. The sweet stuff contributes to health issues that range from increased chronic inflammation to type 2 diabetes, and according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association a whopping 50 percent of adult Americans have diabetes or prediabetes—a condition in which blood glucose levels are elevated.
But avoiding sugar is a tough task. Sure, you can slash obvious sweets like ice cream, cakes, cookies and candy, but sugar hides in 73 percent of packaged foods—even in “better-for-you” products such as yogurt, bread, granola bars and salad dressing.
True, some sweeteners like coconut sugar or maple syrup are lower on the glycemic index, a measurement that discerns how fast certain foods raise blood sugar; but these alternatives are still sugar, says Stephanie Gant, RD, a certified diabetes educator based in Denver, Colorado. “A lot of people think switching from table sugar to something like agave is so much better, but at the end of the day, agave and other sweeteners are still going to spike your blood sugar.” The best option if you have diabetes or prediabetes, or are seeking improved health: Reduce total sugar consumption by scrutinizing the nutrition facts panel on foods and beverages.
Swap out: Soda / Swap in: Kombucha
Even natural soda made with cane sugar can contain up to 43 grams of sugar per 12-ounce serving. Although kombucha is also made with sugar, it’s a fermented beverage, meaning that the end product typically contains minimal sugar, pleasant effervescence and probiotics.
Try: GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha Botanic NO 3
Swap out: Sugary cereal / Swap in: Grain-free granola
Not only are most grain-free granolas low in carbohydrates (which are converted to sugar in your body), but most are also made with a mixture of fiber-rich seeds, nuts, coconut chips, spices and minimal sugar, derived from unrefined sources, like honey or, even better, whole fruits.
Try: Purely Elizabeth Banana Nut Butter Grain-Free Granola
Swap out: Fruit yogurt / Swap in: Plain yogurt
A 2015 review published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who consumed yogurt generally had smaller waistlines than those who never consumed yogurt—but that doesn’t mean all yogurt is equal. Even natural yogurt can contain more than 15 grams of sugar per serving. Choose instead plain, unsweetened yogurt for a tart, protein-dense snack—add whole berries or berry slices for healthy sweetness.
Try: Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr 4% Milkfat Plain