3 Smart Ways to Cut Down Sugar in Your Favorite Foods

From takeout to soda.

sugar down recipes

Get rid of the unneeded sugar in your life with these helpful tips.

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Sugary Soda

Whoa! Sugary Soda: 11.5 teaspoons of sugar

Better... Juice + Seltzer: Made with half cranberry juice cocktail and half seltzer, 7 teaspoons of sugar

Best! Seltzer + Fruit and Cucumber: Less than 1 teaspoon of sugar

Why Diet Soda (and Other Fakes) Won't Help:

Artificial sweeteners might taste good, but they can work against you. Some research suggests they confuse your body and keep it from feeling satisfied. And since they taste sweeter than sugar, they dull your palate and prevent you from enjoying naturally sweet foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

"It's like trying to kick a cigarette habit with cigars," says nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

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Strawberry Danish

Whoa! Strawberry Danish: 9 teaspoons of sugar

Better... Packaged Yogurt With Fruit on the Bottom: 4 teaspoons of sugar

Best! Plain Yogurt With Berries and a Drizzle of Honey: Less than 3.5 teaspoons of sugar

Fruit Is Different:

Thankfully, fruit gets an (almost) free pass when you're trying to control sugar long-term. While it contains sugar, multiple studies confirm its health benefits, says Harvard nutrition professor David Ludwig, MD, PhD. In its natural package, sugar is a different story.

"Whole fruits contain fiber and water, so if you chew an apple, it takes a while for the digestive tract to extract the sugar from it," he adds.

Your body gets the sweet stuff at a rate it can handle. Fruit juice? Sip sparingly —its sugar is concentrated, and fiber is often removed.

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Takeout Sweet & Sour Chicken

Woah! Takeout Sweet & Sour Chicken: 9.5 teaspoons of sugar

Better... Homemade With a Sauce from a Jar: 3.5 teaspoons of sugar

Best! Homemade With the Easy Sauce Below: Less than 2 teaspoons of sugar

DIY Sweet & Sour Sauce:

Mix 3 Tbsp ketchup, 1 ½ Tbsp orange marmalade, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, plus grated ginger and cayenne pepper to taste. Use in place of your usual sweet-and-sour sauce; we brushed it over about 3 lb (bone-in) browned chicken pieces before baking. Serves 4.

This story originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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