TUESDAY, May 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to sugars in food, you're far better off having a bowl of blueberries than a granola bar, a nutritionist says.
Added sugars just aren't the same as natural sugars, noted Kara Shifler Bowers, a registered dietitian at Penn State PRO Wellness, a health center in Hershey, Pa.
"Natural sugars in fruit are different because fruits carry fiber as well as many antioxidants and vitamins such as A and C," she explained in a Penn State Health news release.
Cutting back on added sugars can prevent a number of health problems.
Women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar each day. That's equal to just two-thirds of a can of soda or 1.5 dessert-like yogurts. For men, the limit is 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams.
"The only danger in cutting out added sugars completely is that eventually, one may binge," Shifler Bowers said.
Instead of suddenly eliminating added sugars, it might be a good idea to cut back gradually. Try limiting sugary sweets to special occasions.
"You crave what you eat," Shifler Bowers said. "Your body can forget about foods, so to speak, so the longer you abstain from them, the easier it will be. You can still enjoy them at times, but you won't need to eat the same amount."
Watch what you eat because even seemingly healthy choices such as yogurt, fiber bars, protein bars and store-bought spaghetti sauce can have high levels of added sugars.
"In granola bars, the sugars help ingredients stick together," Shifler Bowers said. "In spaghetti sauce, sugars are used to cut the acidity. Try snacking on fruit and nuts instead."
Parents should wait as long as possible to introduce children to sugar, even sugar in juices.
"Their taste buds are still developing, so if they get used to sweet foods, that is what they are going to want to eat as they get older," Shifler Bowers said.
Children aged 1 to 3 should have no more than 4 ounces of fruit juice a day.
"It's really easy to consume a lot of sugar when drinking sweet beverages. Instead of juice, try offering children fruit such as melons or berries instead, so they get plenty of fiber," Shifler Bowers said.
The American Heart Association has more on added sugars.