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PITTSBURGH (CBS) — With the average American consuming about 155 pounds of sugar each year, it’s clear that sugar is a big part of most of our diets.
But it’s not just your sweet tooth that can get you in trouble. “Hidden sugars” could be sabotaging your diet.
“There’s sugar in a lot of foods you’d never suspect,” says nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner.
She says everything from pasta sauce to granola bars can have loads of added sugar.
Too much sugar can negatively affect your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, putting you at greater risk for heart disease. So, how can you reduce the cravings?
“Keeping sugar in its natural form, from things like yogurts or fruits, is always the best bet to control that sweet tooth but do it in a naturally nutritious way,” Blatner says.
And be sure to read labels. One brand of plain yogurt, for example, has 13 grams of sugar, naturally. But grab the vanilla yogurt and it’s 44 grams.
The sugar synonyms on the ingredient list, like high fructose corn syrup, tell you it’s from added sugar.
Other hidden sugars can be found in molasses, honey and concentrated fruit juices, Blatner says.
Sue Schamber says her sweet tooth was more of an addiction. So she cut added sugar out of her diet altogether with surprising results.
“Once you get through the first couple of weeks of just making a conscious effort not to have it, I seriously have no craving,” Schamber says.
Another tip: Don’t skip meals. That can send you right to the sweets, looking for a quick pick-me-up. Remember, added sugar has no nutritional value at all, just empty calories. But naturally occurring sugar in fruit and dairy products is just fine.