Sugar and Your Heart

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Not only can eating too much sweet stuff increase your risk for obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases, a new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association discovered that consuming foods with added sugar–that is, any sugars that don’t occur naturally in food, such the sucrose found in many pasta sauces or the honey found in some breakfast cereals–raises your levels of bad blood fats and, consequently, your risk for heart disease as much as consuming a high-fat diet.

Researchers tracked the sugar intake of 6,000 men and women for seven years to find that those who had the most added sugar in their diets had the lowest amounts of the good cholesterol HDL and the highest amounts of blood triglycerides and the bad cholesterol LDL. Increased levels of these two blood fats are the primary risk factors for heart disease.

On average, study respondents consumed 21 teaspoons of added sugar daily, accounting for 16 percent of their total caloric intake, not including naturally occurring sugar like fructose from fruit. The group who consumed 25 percent of their daily calories from added sugar were at the highest risk for developing heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends Americans get no more than 5 percent of their daily calories from added sugars.