We’re told from a young age that eating too much sugar will rot our teeth, but the health implications of a diet high in sugar go beyond the first point of contact with our mouths.
High sugar intake not only causes cavities but also causes weight gain and increases inflammation in the body. Recent studies have linked excessive sugar intake to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting calories from added sugars to no more than 10 percent each day. That’s 200 calories (12 teaspoons) for a 2,000-calorie diet. The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of sugar daily. Nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and milk may contain natural sugars, and are not considered “added sugars.” Added sugars are empty calories that do not contain nutrients. They are found in soda, fruit drinks, baked goods, candy, sauces, yogurt, etc., and should be consumed in moderation.
Tips for cutting down on added sugars:
- Drink water or low-fat milk with meals.
- Eat fruit for dessert.
- When baking, cut the sugar the recipe calls for by one-third to one-half, or substitute sugar with unsweetened applesauce.
- Enhance flavor in your recipes by using vanilla, almond or orange extracts, and adding spices like cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg.
- Use fruits and vegetables in recipes that will make the dish naturally sweet (see below).
Quinoa Bowl with Beets, Oranges and Pomegranate Seeds
Adapted from Eating Well magazine by Chris Linaman, executive chef, Overlake Medical Center
- 3 medium beets
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1½ cups water
- 2 cups red quinoa (white is fine, too)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 medium oranges
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 1 whole pomegranate, seeded
- ½ cup chopped dates, pitted
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Trim ends of beets and remove greens. Rinse, pat dry and wrap individually in foil. Roast until tender, about 1 hour.
- Combine broth, water, quinoa and ½ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl.
- Cut two oranges into segments and set aside. Zest then juice the remaining orange (about 1 3 cup). Place zest and juice in a medium bowl. Add lemon juice, pepper and remaining salt to the juice, and whisk in oil until well combined. Stir in ¼ cup parsley.
- Roll a whole pomegranate back and forth on counter to loosen seeds, then cut in half. Over a medium bowl, loosely hold one half of the pomegranate in one hand, open side down, and smack the top of the fruit with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and the seeds will fall out. Repeat with other half.
- Peel and dice beets once roasted and cooled. Add beets and dates to quinoa, and gently combine. Pour dressing over mixture and toss. Serve garnished with orange segments, pomegranate seeds and remaining parsley.