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Get smart about sugar

Eating too much sugar can have some not-so-sweet effects on your health.

But you don’t have to give up the foods you love completely. Instead, you can limit added sugars by making some smart, small changes to how you eat.

Here are a few tips:

  • Read food labels
  • Put sugar, syrup, honey and molasses away instead of leaving them on the table
  • Cut the amount of sugar called for in a recipe by half
  • Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages
  • Buy fresh fruits, or fruits canned in water or juice instead of syrup
  • Add fresh or dried fruit to cereal for sweetness, instead of eating sugared cereal
  • Use extracts or spices to add flavour

Sugar could be hiding from you

There are sugars, called free sugars, added to foods and beverages as they are processed. Baked goods, sports and energy drinks, soda, bread, flavoured yogurt, salad dressing and ketchup are some examples of foods with added sugar. Often, foods that have reduced salt or fat have more sugar. These types of foods add calories and leave less room for foods with more nutrients.

Natural sugars occur in fruit and milk. These foods provide protein, vitamins, fibre and other disease-fighting nutrients, and are an important part of a balanced diet.

Read the food label

  • Look at the ingredient’s list
  • Natural and added sugars count as total grams of sugar on the food label
  • Sugar is stated in grams — there are four grams of sugar in a teaspoon

It’s important to keep in mind that added sugars also lurk in processed foods under other names. Some examples are high fructose corn syrup, maltose, molasses, honey or fruit juice concentrates.

Pay attention to your sugar intake

Adults: Aim to consume no more than 30g (seven sugar cubes) a day

Children (ages 4-6): Aim to consume no more than 19g (five sugar cubes) a day

Children (ages 7-10):Aim to consume no more than 24g (six sugar cubes) a day

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.


Sources: Healthwise, Incorporated. Available at Accessed 1 March 2017. NHS Choices. Available at Accessed 1 March 2017.


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