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Sugar may be sweet and delicious, but it may also contribute to an early demise. A huge body of research has found that sugar–particularly added and refined sugar–contributes to a large number of chronic health problems. It leads to premature aging of the skin and compromises your immune system.

If you're ready to say sayonara to poor health due to excessive sugar, these tips will help you reduce the amount of sugar you eat each day.

1. Read food labels. Sugar is added to foods that might really surprise you, including salad dressing and other condiments, crackers, and tomato sauce. If you find sugar near the top of the ingredients list, you know you should look for a different brand. To find out how many grams of sugar can be found in a serving of your favorite packaged foods, simply look under "carbohydrates" to find the grams of sugars.

2. Buy unsweetened foods. From peanut butter and applesauce to oatmeal and canned fruit, added sugar accounts for a huge portion of your daily sugar intake. Opt for unsweetened versions of your favorite staples to cut out a whole lotta added sugar from your diet. Simple Girl condiments–including our dressings, marinades, barbecue sauces, and spice mixes–contain absolutely no added sugar, but you wouldn't know that from tasting them!

3. Eat fats and proteins. Sugar overload leads to a rapid rise in blood sugar, which then dives just as quickly, leaving you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Healthy fats and proteins can reduce the rising and falling of blood sugar to help ease cravings for sugary foods. Think a handful of almonds or a tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple or a little pile of turkey and a few avocado slices on a slice of whole-grain bread.

4. Ditch the soda. Soda is notoriously high in sugar content. A can of Coca Cola has a staggering 39 grams of sugar–yes, you read that right, 39 grams!–which is over six times the recommended daily limit for women and over 13 times the recommended daily sugar limit for children. But don't replace your sugary soda with the diet version. While diet sodas may not contain sugar, they contain myriad other extremely harmful ingredients. Opt instead for fruit-infused water or iced green tea when you work up a thirst.

5. Indulge wisely. Cutting out as much added sugar from your diet as possible leaves a little leeway for enjoying an indulgent sweet treat every now and then, which is good for the soul. Reward yourself with a delicious dessert a couple of times a week so that you don't feel deprived, which can lead to serious sugar binges if you're not careful.

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