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Most Canadians eat too much sugar. Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit, milk, honey and syrup. However, most of the sugar we eat has been added to food to make it taste sweet. Sugar is added to many types of food, such as soft drinks and juice drinks; cereal, cookies, candy, cakes and pastries; jams and ice cream. Some sauces and condiments – ketchup, for example – are very high in sugar.
Foods and drinks with added sugar have lots of calories but usually contain few nutrients – and they don’t help you feel full for long. For this reason, they are sometimes described as “empty calories”.
Sugar and cancer
Eating lots of foods that have sugar added means you are more likely to put on weight. Research shows that being overweight increases your risk of cancer, so try to eat these foods less often.
Tips to cut down on sugar
- Check nutrition labels to help you avoid foods high in added sugar. If sugar, glucose, honey, corn syrup, fructose, maltose or dextrose are listed, sugar has been added. If you see one of these near the top of the list, you know the product is high in added sugar.
- Drink water or unsweetened fruit juice instead of soft drinks and juice drinks. Try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water if you find it hard to give up soft drinks.
- Gradually reduce the amount of sugar you take in your coffee or tea.
- Have a piece of fruit when you’re craving something sweet.
- Choose whole grain breakfast cereals that are not coated with sugar or honey. If you find it hard to get used to the new taste, try sprinkling a little bit of sugary cereal on top of your healthier option at first. Then use a little less each day.
- Have a slice of melon or fresh berries with a low-fat yogurt instead of cookies for a mid-afternoon snack.
- Try using half the amount of sugar you would usually use in recipes. It works for most things except jam, meringues and ice cream.
- Choose canned fruit in juice rather than in syrup.
- Limit how often you eat processed foods.