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Ask a dietitian: Should I use sugar substitutes?

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(BPT) - Americans are eating and drinking too much added sugar, which can contribute to a variety of chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. According to the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans, people 2 years and over should have no more than 10% of total daily calories from added sugar. That means that on an average American 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 200 calories (or 12 teaspoons) should come from added sugar. In order to live healthier lives, Americans need to find ways to reduce the consumption of added sugar.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, is a Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author, spokesperson, speaker and recipe developer who believes that healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious. Amidor weighed in on the topic of sugar and provided her thoughts on how people can reduce sugar intake and still enjoy their favorite foods.

Q: What is the difference between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar?

A: The two types of sugar consumed in the diet are natural and added. Natural sugars are naturally found in food like fruit or milk. Added sugars, however, are found in sugars and syrups that have been introduced into the food during preparation or processing. The biggest difference between the two is that added sugar in processed foods tends to add calories while providing little to no beneficial nutrients. Natural sugars, however, are naturally occurring in foods that are packed with nutrients. Erythritol, a natural sweetener used to create Swerve, is made from ingredients found in select fruits and starchy root vegetables, and contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives or flavors. Swerve has zero calories and is low-glycemic, so it is safe for people living with diabetes. Further, gastrointestinal troubles are rare with erythritol because it has the highest digestive tolerance out of all the sugar alcohols. Studies have shown that you can consume up to 80 grams per day without digestive issues.

Q: What are some tips for reducing added sugar?

A: According to the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans, the top five sources of added sugar in the diet of Americans ages 1 and older are sugar-sweetened beverages (24%), desserts and sweet snacks (19%), coffee and tea (11%), candy and sugar (9%), and breakfast cereal and bars (7%). However, it is still important for Americans to enjoy their everyday favorite foods. So how can Americans enjoy their everyday favorite foods while decreasing added sugar? There are simple hacks that can be followed to help decrease the amount of added sugar in the diet. One of these hacks is to use sugar substitutes such as erythritol. Below are five easy ways to reduce sugar in foods people consume regularly:

1) Instead of adding sugar to your morning pancake or waffle batter, swap it for a zero added sugar pancake and waffle mix.

2) Instead of adding granular sugar to coffee and tea, swap it for the same amount of zero-calorie natural sweetener. I love adding Brown Swerve to my morning cup.

3) Instead of adding honey or maple syrup to your smoothie, swap it for one to two pitted dates.

4) Instead of 1 cup of brown sugar, use 1 cup of Brown Swerve in cookies, brownies and cupcakes.

5) Instead of choosing a sugary breakfast cereal, swap it for a lower sugar cereal and top with fresh fruit like strawberries or dried fruit like raisins.

These simple shifts in the diet to reduce added sugar are sustainable long-term and can help create lifelong healthy habits.

For more information on where to find Swerve near you, please visit their store locator or purchase on Amazon.