(Natural News) Cakes and cookies are sweet, guilty pleasures, but consuming too many sugary drinks and sweets can be bad for your well-being. In fact, the consumption of too much sugar is linked to different health conditions like diabetes and obesity.
The health risks associated with sugar consumption
A lot of processed foods contain added sugar. If you eat a lot of fast food, this makes up a large proportion of your daily calorie intake.
Data suggests that in the U.S., added sugars make up at least 17 percent of the total calorie intake of adults and about 14 percent for children. However, dietary guidelines advise that you should limit calories from added sugar to less than 10 percent per day.
If you don’t think eating sweets daily is bad for you, here are several reasons to replace cookies with whole fruits.
- It can cause weight gain. Consuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages like juice, soda, and sweet teas, increases your risk of weight gain. The consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is also associated with an increased amount of visceral fat, a type of deep belly fat that is linked to conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
- It can increase heart disease risk. Following a diet full of sugary foods and drinks may lead to heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, inflammation, and obesity. High-sugar diets are also associated with a greater risk of dying due to heart disease.
- It can increase your risk of developing diabetes. Excessive sugar consumption can cause obesity and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for diabetes.
- It can increase cancer risk. A high-sugar diet can cause inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity, three major risk factors linked to cancer.
Tips for cutting down on sugar
It can be difficult to stop your cravings for sugary desserts, but these tips can help curb your appetite and improve your eating habits.
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- Include a protein source with every meal. Protein will help you feel full longer, which can help control your cravings. Pair proteins with fiber (e.g., whole grains), healthy fats (e.g., avocado or nuts and seeds), and fresh vegetables for maximum satiety.
- Eat fresh or dried fruits instead of sweets. If you really want to have a snack, get something fruit-based.
- Use sweet spices like allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg as natural sugar substitutes when preparing foods and drinks like yogurt or smoothies.
- Avoid sugary drinks like coffees, energy drinks, fruit juices, iced teas, and sodas that are full of added sugar. When you’re hankering for a soda, get a glass of refreshing fruit-, herb-, or vegetable-infused water instead. (Related: How to detox yourself from sugar: A day-by-day guide.)
Recipes for naturally sweetened desserts
Cutting back on sugar doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything sweet again. You can still have your cake and eat it too by trying these easy recipes for naturally sweetened desserts.
Banana blueberry bark
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)
- Blend the frozen bananas and vanilla until smooth, then stir in the blueberries.
- Spread the mixture into a single layer on a pan.
- Freeze the mixture for at least four hours then break it apart.
- Eat the blueberry banana bark directly from the freezer.
Chocolate chia peanut butter bites
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 3/4 cup pitted dates (about 13 dates)
- 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 3 tablespoons (tbsp) peanut butter
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- A dash of salt
- Pulse the walnuts in a blender or food processor until they turn into a fine crumb.
- Pour the walnut crumbs into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Blend the dates until they reach a paste-like consistency, then add them to the bowl of walnuts.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined.
- Form the mixture into about 13 bites. Store the chocolate chia peanut butter bites in the refrigerator or freezer.
Frozen fruit ice cream
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- A pinch of stevia (alternatively, you can use agave nectar or honey)
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy; you can use unsweetened almond or coconut milk)
- Use a blender or food processor to pulse the fruits until they are broken down.
- Add the vanilla and stevia, then turn the machine on.
- Slowly add the milk and puree until smooth. Continue to add milk until it reaches your desired creaminess.
- Serve immediately.
Follow a balanced diet and eat whole foods instead of desserts to reduce your sugar intake, lose weight, and improve your overall health.