Do you know how much sugar you consume each day? I'm not talking about how much table sugar you add to your food. I'm talking about the sugar that is hidden away in your beverages, your snacks, and your meals. According to some media reports, when you add up all possible sources, Americans consume an average of 3.2 cups of sugar each week. The American Heart Association recommends that we eat 6 teaspoons per day.

So where is all of the sugar coming from? Many times you'll find hidden sugar in foods that you'd never expect. Foods that are salty and savory may contain sugar even though they aren't sweet. Many processed foods contain hidden sugars.

To find hidden sugar start by checking the Nutrition Facts label on the food that you buy. Look beneath the area where the daily nutrients are listed and find the list of ingredients. If a manufacturer has added sugar to the food you're eating, it will be listed here. But here's the tricky part. It won't always be listed as "sugar" in the list.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides an extensive list of terms you should look for when you are scanning the ingredients list for hidden sugar. These are just a few examples: dextrose, evaporated cane juice, honey, lactose, malt syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, crystalline fructose, agave nectar.

Even a natural ingredient like raw sugar, brown sugar or fruit nectar can be a source of hidden sugar, so be smart when you shop for food.

If you are concerned about the amount of sugar you consume, you can cut your daily intake with one simple step: stop drinking sweetened beverages. There are several drinks that can ruin your diet and most of them contain too much sugar. Of course, soda is the worst offender. Have you ever thought about the amount of money you'd save and the number of pounds you'd lose if you cut out your daily soda? The answer may surprise you.

But sweetened teas, fruit juices, and even the smoothies you make at home can contain excessive amounts of sugar or other sweeteners. Stay smart and drink water instead. You'll reduce your sugar intake, slim down and feel more energized during the day.