A Warning About Sugar & Heart Disease

16 Sep

Did you know that the average American gets at least 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars—and 1 in 10 people get as much as 25 percent or more of their calories from added sugar?

Added sugars have no benefit to our health and can contribute to weight gain. Even more concerning, eating too much sugar can lead to serious health conditions. According to a large study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, eating too much sugar can increase the risk of dying from heart disease, even in people who are not overweight.  The key finding was that participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar. The study spanned over 15 years.

Do you know where most of your sugar is coming from? The biggest source of sugar in the typical diet is sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks. To put it in perspective, a 12 ounce cola (1 can) has 9 teaspoons of sugar!  The American Heart Association recommends that women consume less than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons) and men consume less than 150 calories of added sugar per day (about 9 teaspoons). So, one cola would be the sugar limit for the entire day for a man, and more than the daily recommendation for a woman. Other top sources of added sugar are candy, cookies, cakes, pastries, fruit drinks, ice cream/frozen yogurt and cereal.

It’s not yet clear exactly how much sugar might be harmful to the heart. But as we learn more about how harmful sugar can be, we can start to create better diet guidelines. Recently, the FDA created a new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new labels, which are being introduced on products over the coming months, will now include “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value. The FDA cites that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar. If you have questions about how to limit added sugars in your diet, here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

And if you’re a patient of Dr. Misra, or have questions about our weight loss treatments, get in touch with us. We’re always happy to hear from you and answer questions!