Photo: Wavebreak Media Ltd via 123RF

Getting vegetables, healthy fats, and plenty of water helps you stay strong and have energy for daily tasks and adventures. Limiting sugar intake as part of a healthy diet is also essential. Note that added sugar isn’t the same as sugar found naturally in foods. A banana tastes sweet, but that’s from fructose rather than an added teaspoon of white sugar.

While it’s still important to limit natural sugars to make room for a balanced diet, they tend to occur alongside other healthy vitamins and nutrients that make it easier for our bodies to use the sugar effectively (like fiber in fruits).

Added sugar = added risk

Avoiding added sugar is a good idea at any age, but for seniors, it’s crucial. As we get older, the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and memory impairment increases simply due to aging. Adding too much extra sugar to your diet when you’re over 60 is like fueling the fire. The extra calories contribute to potential weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes, and there are other concerns, too. Eating sugary foods can create a negative cycle since your body burns through them quickly and needs another pick-me-up just a couple of hours later. If you’re filling too much of your diet with these added sugars, you’re likely missing out on vital nutrients that help keep your body strong and active as you age.

Healthier alternatives

If you’re trying to cut down on added sugars in your diet, there are plenty of healthier alternatives. One of the easiest ways to limit added sugar is by avoiding processed foods. Packaged snacks and drinks are big culprits. The good news? Baking at home makes it easy to control the amount of sugar you add, and you get to spend time in the kitchen with loved ones as part of the process. That’s a win-win.

Frozen treats

If you’re craving something cold on a warm day, skip the store-bought ice cream and make something yourself instead! These frozen chocolate banana bites are the perfect choice if you’re in the mood for chocolate. The sweet banana makes good use of natural fructose, while the dark chocolate adds more antioxidants to your diet than its milk chocolate counterpart. Keep a batch of these on hand all summer long! For a non-chocolate option, try a batch of these apple crumble popsicles. By pureeing the apple skin and all, you’ll keep the fiber content high to help your body process the small bit of added honey in the recipe.

Photo: Elena Khramova via 123RF

Cookies and cakes

Making healthier cookies and cakes doesn’t have to mean avoiding refined sugar entirely. Look for recipes that limit the sugar content and include ingredients that add beneficial nutrients as well. This yogurt cake is a great example and is easy to make! The yogurt adds protein and a nice tanginess that balances the sugar well. A zucchini cake is another easy way to add flavor, fiber, and nutrients to your cake without sacrificing sweetness or texture. This recipe uses applesauce as some sweetener, making it even healthier than the name suggests!

If you’re in the mood for a quick bake, try these peanut butter cookies. They use a sugar substitute (easily found on the baking aisle) and natural peanut butter to keep the sugar content low but the flavor high.

Other desserts

You can easily turn traditional desserts into healthier alternatives at home. This chocolate mousse uses Greek yogurt to give more protein with less fat, while a small amount of honey adds the perfect touch of sweetness. If you’re in the mood for candy, try making homemade pumpkin spice fudge that uses maple syrup instead of white sugar for sweetness.

And don’t forget all those summer pies—you can make these healthier by choosing a lighter crust that uses whole wheat flour (more fiber) and fruit that contains natural sweetness. This peach and raspberry pie is a delicious option with only two tablespoons of sugar!

Limiting your sugar intake doesn’t have to mean cutting out dessert. In fact, it can be the perfect excuse to spend time baking with loved ones and making delicious memories!

The Active Aging Series is brought to you by our partner, Cambrian Homecare. Cambrian Homecare has been assisting individuals to stay independent in their homes for 27 years. Flexible experience you can trust, when the best place is still at home.