Not all sugar is created equal. In fresh fruit, for example, sugar occurs naturally in the food along with valuable nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So even though it has sugar, fruit remains an important part of a healthy diet.
100% fruit juice is also made up of natural sugars as well as nutrients and vitamins, but it doesn’t have the fiber found in fruit that helps you to feel full as well as control blood sugar. This is why only 4-6 ounces of 100% fruit juice is all we need per day to avoid too much sugar.
However, processed beverages with added sugar have lots of sugar and calories, but almost no nutrients. Regular soda, fruit drinks, sweetened teas, coffee drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened milk or milk alternatives or any other beverage where sugar has been added are all considered sugary drinks.
Read before you drink—every time. Before you open a bottle or pop a top take a second to read the nutritional facts panel. Find the amount of sugar in grams. If you see more 12 grams of sugar (for a 12 ounce drink), that’s a sugar-loaded beverage. Stop and rethink your drink.
The ingredients label is where you would find natural or added sugars. Ingredients are listed in order of the amount that the drink contains. Check the first three ingredients on the list and if they contain any of the common sugars (see list above) it generally has extra sugar added to the beverage.
Don’t buy into advertising that makes sugar-sweetened beverages seem healthier than they really are. Beverages like sweetened teas, sports drinks, and energy drinks try to look healthy, but they are loaded with sugar. Just look at the nutritional facts panel—the ingredients are right there in black and white, and they can’t be sugar coated.
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