Why your sugary diet may be putting your health at risk again
By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., April 21, 2010 - 12:59pm
I know it can be hard to limit your added sugars intake—just last week I tried to drink a cup of coffee without any sugar thinking I might not notice. I did! But a new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which adds to evidence that eating too many added sugars may be taking a toll on our heart health, gives us another good reason to keep trying.
Added sugars are those added to food by consumers or during manufacturing by food producers and include sweeteners like honey, molasses and agave nectar as well as table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. (Get a more complete list of added sugars and its aliases here.)
Last fall, the American Heart Association recommended that women should eat no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars, or about 6 teaspoons, and men should stick to less than 150 calories, approximately 9 teaspoons. (Here are 3 ways to cut back on your sugar intake.) For reference, a 12-ounce can of cola contains about 8 teaspoons of added sugars. (Find out what that soda is actually doing to your body.)
This new study “strengthens and substantiates the American Heart Association’s recommendations for limiting added sugars intake,” says Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., M.P.H, EatingWell’s senior nutrition advisor, Professor of Nutrition, University of Vermont, member of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and AHA spokesperson.
In the study of more than 6,000 Americans, those who ate more added sugars had lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides (“bad” fats in the blood)—two risk factors for cardiovascular disease—than people who ate less added sugars. (Stay healthy with recipes for delicious sweet treats with surprisingly low added sugars here.)
While it might not come as a surprise that sugars are bad for your heart health, this is the first study to look specifically at consumption of added sugars and blood lipids. These new findings add to the ever-growing research on added sugars and their effects on your heart health. Last fall, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended limiting added sugars based on the idea that too much sugar is likely contributing to our growing waistlines and therefore raising the risk for heart disease.
How have you reduced the amount of added sugar you consume? Tell us what you think below.