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Sugar

The word “sugar” describes the group of carbohydrates that help make our food sweet.   All sugars, whether they are naturally occurring in a food or added to a food, have the same nutritional value and are handled by your body in the same way.

Have foods with natural occurring sugars more often than those with added sugars such as fruits, vegetables, and milk. Fruits and vegetables have lots of other nutrients and fibre that are beneficial for our bodies.  Milk has important minerals and vitamins such as vitamin D and Calcium that are very important for our bones and health.
Our bodies do need sugar to work properly and give us fuel but we need to watch how much we are eating.

How do I tell if sugar has been added to a food item?

Read nutrition labels. Look at the ingredient list for words that would tell us sugar has been added like:
• Sugar
• Syrup
• High fructose corn syrup
• Honey
• Words ending in ‘ose'
 • Molasses
• Fruit juice concentrates.1

Too much sugar in our diets can be harmful to our health and may cause dental caries, diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease.

Tips to reduce sugar intake:
  • Choose foods most often that have naturally occurring sugar such as fruits, vegetables and milk.  These foods usually contain less sugar and provide many important nutrients. 
  • Limit foods with added sugars such as sweetened beverages, baked goods and desserts, candy and ice cream. 
  • Substitute applesauce or pureed fruit for half of the sugar in home baking.
  • Enjoy a bowl of fresh fruit or yogurt for dessert rather than cakes, pies, pastries and ice cream.
  • Choose canned fruit in water rather than syrup. 
  • Enjoy lower sugar, whole grain cereals rather than cereals with added sugars.
  • Use small amounts of high sugar spreads such as jam, syrup and honey.  Look for lower sugar or ‘light’ alternatives.
  • Read food labels to help you select lower sugar products.

Beverages
  • Choose water most often
  • Choose milk (skim, 1%, or 2%) and 100% juice often
  • Choose sugar sweetened beverages less often
  • Try mixing juice or cocktails with water or soda water to cut down on the sugar content – or just offer or choose water!
  • If a glass of water does not satisfy you, try adding a lemon to for flavor without added sugar.
  • Eat a piece of fruit instead of juice.
  • If you have the choice, choose the diet option of your favourite soft drink.
  • Add sugar-free drink crystals or syrups to a glass of water. 
  • Choose 100% fruit juice rather than punches and cocktails.
  • Read food labels to help you select lower sugar products.
While Canada does not currently have set sugar intake recommendations, the American Heart Association recommends that women limit their consumption of added sugars to 6 teaspoons and men to 9 teaspoons per day. 4 grams of sugar listed on the food label equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. One teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams of sugar, so that’s a limit of about 24 grams/day for women and 36 grams/day for men!2 Check your food labels to see where you are at.


The Healthy Eating Manual and the Nutrition Resource Centre. 'Choose Less Sugar'. Retrieved from: www.healthyeatingmanual.ca.
2American Heart Association. 'Sugar 101'. Retrieved from: www.heart.org.