For your health, cut out drinks heavy on hidden sugar

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The national 5210 campaign challenges us to drink zero beverages that are sugar-sweetened.

Zero! Yikes! That’s quite a mouthful for some of us to swallow.

It’s pretty obvious that “regular” pop is high in sugar. Some beverages might seem healthy but are actually loaded with sugar, such as fruit juice and most energy drinks.

In fact, according to the American Heart Association, we consume more than 30 pounds of sugar in a year via refreshment beverages.

How do you recognize the hidden sugar in beverages? Look in the list of ingredients for anything ending in “-ose.” Fructose, dextrose and sucrose are all names for sugar. So are corn syrup, agave, honey and molasses.

To reduce the amount of sugary drinks in your daily routine, make a plan to switch to something you would enjoy. The U.S. Marine Corps is on board with 5210 and encourages parents to serve children water or 1 percent milk instead of sweetened beverages. You can add variety to water by infusing it with mint, cinnamon or ginger.

Try to figure out why you like drinking your favorite beverage. Is it because pop and powdered drink mixes are cheap? Because they are handy to grab? Try the “diet” or no-calorie version or water that’s free from your tap.

Do you enjoy the lift you get from the caffeine? Try unsweetened coffee or tea. Maybe you choose a beverage out of social pressure: young people often choose a beverage due to advertising that targets their age group.

Adults aren’t immune to peer pressure. Think of the millions of dollars spent on advertising wine and liquor, both of which contain sugar. Watch out for seasonal traditions, such as punch, eggnog or pumpkin spice latte — all filled with lots of sugar.

As with any behavior, you might encounter some challenges in changing your habits. Uncover the reason why you drink sugary beverages, and make a plan. In the end, the important thing will be a decrease in your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Health Department.

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