Sugar Free Snacks - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Sugar Free Snacks

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

Sugar Free Snacks

It’s great to have a wide array of snack ideas and options stored away in your back pocket for when hunger strikes, especially if kids are involved! We know sugar isn’t the most nutritious food for our bodies, but sometimes it sneaks its way into our snacks and we don’t even realize it. Keep reading for some information on how to better understand food labeling when it comes to sugar. When you’re ready to eat, we have some tasty sugar free snacks for you!

Sugar Free vs. No Sugar Added

Knowing the difference between all the sugar related terminology can be confusing. If you’re looking to cut down on sugar in your snacks, it’s helpful to have a better understanding of packaging claims and the difference between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars.

Sugar free snacks are foods or snacks that contain no added sugar as well as less than 0.5 grams of naturally occurring sugar, like a handful of plain nuts for example. Often, packaged foods that promote this sugar free claim contain artificial sweeteners, which you may want to avoid. No sugar added products haven’t had any sugars added during their production, but they do have naturally occurring sugars. Think about foods like dried or fresh fruit or plain yogurt.

Sugar and Its Effect on Health

 We hear all the time about the recommendations to lower our sugar intake, but why? Too much sugar can have a significant impact on our health and risk for developing future health problems.  Added sugar has been found to be associated with increased calorie intake, an increase in belly fat, and abnormal lipid levels.1 These effects can put an individual at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

Benefits of cutting down on sugar

Cutting down on sugary snacks can have some serious health benefits. Researchers have found that reducing added sugar intake by 20% could potentially reduce the prevalence of liver disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.2

Sweet ways to decrease sugar intake

We all know what it’s like to have that craving for a sweet snack… it can be hard to ignore! Thankfully, there are some tricks to add sweetness to foods without actually adding sugar. Where you would normally add sugar, honey or other sweetener, like in your coffee, yogurt or oatmeal, try using sweet spices like cinnamon, ginger and clove. Vanilla or almond extract can also have a similar effect. They will give you a sweet hit without any extra sugar!

Recipes for No Sugar Added & Sugar Free Snacks

If you’re looking for healthier snack ideas, try some of these recipes for low sugar and sugar free snacks.

Winter Smoothie – This winter smoothie is the perfect pick-me-up for a midday snack – and delicious all year-round! Because the berries provide some natural sweetness, no added sugars or sweeteners are needed in this smoothie! It also gets a sweet hit from yummy warming spices.

Edamame Hummus—Hummus is an ideal snack because it provides protein that can help keep you full until your next meal. The edamame in this recipe puts a new spin on hummus, giving it a fresh green color and extra smooth texture. It’s a creamy dreamy dip, delicious with veggies and crackers!

Pistachio Nut Butter—Homemade nut butter might sound complicated, but it is SO easy! Nuts, meet blender or food processor, and you have nut butter. Some store-bought nut butters do have added sugars, so beware and check the label. Just another reason to try making your own!

References

  1. Vos MB, Kaar JL, Welsh JA, et al. Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135(19). doi:10.1161/cir.0000000000000439.
  2. Vreman RA, Goodell AJ, Rodriguez LA, Porco TC, Lustig RH, Kahn JG. Health and economic benefits of reducing sugar intake in the USA, including effects via non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a microsimulation model. BMJ Open. 2017;7(8). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013543.

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