“Low sugar” foods can still have great taste

Explore ways to cut down on sugar while keeping the flavor in your foods!

We hear and read about it all the time: “Cut down on sugar”;“Don’t eat fat”; “Salt isn’t good for you.” Our bodies need these nutrients in order to function properly, but many of us eat far too many of them. Sugar, fat and salt are linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. Here are some specific ways to cut down on sugar and keep the flavor in your foods!

  • Give sugar-free versions of the foods you like a good honest try! Commit to using sugar-free yogurt, canned fruit in its own juice or sugar-free soda for at least two weeks to develop a new habit. Or, rather than any soda at all, how about water or fat-free milk?
  • Some spices have a sweet taste and can help eliminate some sugar. Examples are cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.
  • Instead of reaching for a sweet treat, try a fruit-sickle. Freeze fruit juice (or juice mixed with pureed fruit) in paper/plastic cups with a wooden stick or a plastic spoon for a handle. Or purchase ready-made all-fruit frozen pops.
  • For a snack or dessert, try nature’s original fast food: fruit!
  • Jams and jellies can contain a lot of sugar; give store-bought “all-fruit” products a try. They are sometimes even more flavorful than regular sweet spreads.
  • When baking you can often reduce sugar by 1/4 to 1/3, without a noticeable difference, or substitute some of the sugar with a heat-stable artificial sweetener.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts label on foods you eat, so that you know how much sugar you are consuming. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a two-page handout to help consumers understand and use the Nutrition Facts Label, as well as an entertaining and educational video  that can be used to assist in making informed food choices.

For more information about nutrition, disease prevention and other issues of interest to Michigan families, contact a Michigan State University Extension educator in your area.

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