It’s sweet and oh so good, but not so good for you. Sugar has been tied to weight gain and diabetes, but recent studies show that sugar may also affect heart health.
For years we’ve been warned of the dangers of added salt, and its effect on the heart. However, scientists are compiling mounting evidence showing that added sugar may be more dangerous than its savory counterpart.
“When it comes to sugar, the toxicity is in the dose,” says Dr. John Day, a cardiologist at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to Day, limiting your daily sugar intake can help you maintain a healthy weight and healthy heart.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the average American consumes just about 152 pounds of sugar each year. That’s 42 teaspoons of sugar a day.
Sugar & Your Heart
Prioritizing heart health is vital, since heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many health programs target salt intake to help reduce high blood pressure, but researchers suggest sugar is just as dangerous. According to a study published in Open Heart in December 2014, new research shows sugar intake contributes to many heart disease factors.
Adding too much sugar to a diet has been linked to:
• High blood pressure
• High LDL (bad cholesterol)
• Reduced HDL (good cholesterol)
• Insulin resistance
According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet. Researchers set out to show the association of added sugar intake with CVD mortality.
The study showed that those who got 25% or more of their daily calories from sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who consumed less than 10% added sugar.
Limiting the Sweet Stuff
How much sugar can you treat yourself to? If you listen to the advice of the American Heart Association (AHA) women should limit sugar intake to 6 teaspoons per day, or 100 calories, and men should intake no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories of sugar a day.
Limiting added sugar can be harder than you think. A great way to monitor added sugar is by paying close attention to nutrition fact labels and online guides. In order to manage your sugar intake correctly, it’s important to understand the difference between natural sugars and added sugar.
Natural sugar can be found in fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose), but added sugars can be found in many foods once prepared.
Everyone knows that deserts like cookies and cakes are full of added sugar, but did you know that breads, pastas, dressings and sauces can hide just as much of the sweet stuff?
“It’s important to understand the different ways you might find sugar in food,” says Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, an adjunct professor in nutrition at Georgia State University and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Many foods that contain added sugar won’t list sugar on the Nutrition label. Instead they list ingredients like fructose, molasses, honey, corn syrup, agave nectar, and fruit juice concentrate. Although they go by a different name, these ingredients are considered added sugars.
Moore also suggests cutting back sugar by:
• Eating fruit instead of drinking sugary juices
• Buy cereal, oatmeal or yogurt that’s plain and add in your own fruit
• Vary your fruit intake by eating what’s in season
• Avoid canned or frozen fruits (if you do opt for these choose products packaged in water instead of syrup)
As always a balanced diet is important. You don’t have to cut sugar out of your diet entirely, but by reducing your added sugar intake you can significantly improve your health. Get more nutritional information and diet advice from Dayton Dandes Medical Center by scheduling your appointment today.
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Openheart.bmj.com: “The wrong white crystals: not salt but sugar as aetiological in hypertension and cardiometabolic disease.”
Archinte.jamanetwork.com: “Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults”
The articles on this website are not to be construed as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.