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Health Check: How to decrease your sugar intake

A trip to the grocery store offers a variety of healthy foods, unhealthy temptations and everything in between.

It's Brenna Thompson's job as a registered dietitian to make sure that people opt for the healthier options, especially when it comes to sugar content.

"Sugar is very addictive," said Thompson, a registered dietitian from Nutritional Weight and Wellness in Maple Grove. "They've actually shown, particularly in mice studies, that it's just as addictive as cocaine or heroin."

That's why she wants to warn people that some items on the store shelves such as whole grain breads, chips or cereals aren't as healthy as you may think.

"They are very high in sugar," she said. "Because all of those carbohydrates turn to sugar."

And, too much sugar can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol and weight gain.

"The average American is consuming anywhere between 43 and 60 teaspoons of sugar a day," Thompson said. "[That's] over a cup of sugar, and that's part of what's leading to all of these health problems."

So to cut down on that sugar intake, she recommends swapping out the high sugar foods for healthier options. On a Tuesday morning, she laid out a plate of what she calls a "typical breakfast" of raisin bran cereal with milk and a glass of orange juice. Add up all the sugar content, and she said it's equal to 17.5 teaspoons of sugar.

She says that a good alternative would be three scrambled eggs with avocado, and half a cup of fresh fruit, and a cup of tea or black coffee.

As for lunch, she provided an example of a deli sandwich with some potato chips and a 20oz. soda. The overall sugar content is equal to 18.5 teaspoons of sugar.

She suggests swapping that meal out with a bowl of chili, a side salad with olive oil vinegarette and sparkling water.

"Now we're only having about 1--3 teaspoons of sugar," Thompson said of the chili, salad and water. "So huge differences there."

Bottom line, when you're at the grocery store, aim for the produce section and avoid anything processed.

"That's gonna get people a long ways, just doing that," Thompson said.

For more examples on the benefits of cutting down the sugar intake, click on the Weightandwellness.com link.

Delane Cleveland

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12 News is on Comcast cable channel 12 in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis and includes the cities Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Golden Valley, Maple Grove, New Hope, Osseo, Plymouth and Robbinsdale.

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