Ice cream, apple pie, chocolate pudding we all crave something sweet now and again. And while a little sweet treat can easily fit into a healthy diet, too much added sugar can have serious consequences. Several studies have shown that excess sugar in the diet contributes to an increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, increased triglycerides, weight gain and malnutrition. But how much is too much? According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar a day and men no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar a day. However, most Americans consume about 2-3 times the recommended.

Here are six ways to manage the added sugars in your diet without feeling deprived.

Read food labels

Although the FDA has always required the amount of sugar to be listed on the Nutrition Facts Label of food products, it was difficult to know exactly how much sugar was naturally occurring in the food and how much sugar was added by the food manufacturer. While you might not be surprised to see foods like breakfast cereals and soda containing a significant amount of added sugarthis popular additive has also found its way into unexpected places like sauces, bread, soups, frozen dinners, and protein bars. Fortunately, new FDA rules will require food manufacturers to show exactly where the sugar is coming from by separately outing added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Label. These labels arent set to debut until 2018, so in the meantime check the ingredient list to see what added sugars (such as high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, and fruit concentrate) might be lurking in your food.

Add in protein

Foods high in added sugar can cause your blood sugar levels to rise quickly and then fall, leaving you feeling tired and craving more sugar. By balancing out sugar with protein it will not only create a more nutritious snack, it will help you maintain your blood sugar levels for better health. Rather than a candy bar with 20 grams of sugar, opt for a handful of pistachios with 1-ounce of dark chocolate. Not only will you cut the amount of added sugars in half, youll add in important nutrients from the pistachios like protein, fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. Plus, protein helps to increase “satiety,” or a feeling of fullness after eating a meal, so it can help reduce calories from mindless snacking.

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