It’s no secret that a sweet tooth can affect your waistline, but did you know that it can also have an effect on your heart health? Over the past 30 years, Americans have increased their calorie intake just by consuming more carbohydrates and sugars. We eat an extra 256 calories each day in the form of added sugar, which can damage our hearts and lead to weight gain. Excess sugar in the diet can be incredibly harmful and has been linked to many chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and even heart disease.
Recent studies have shown that a diet high in sugar can put you at a greater risk of dying from heart disease, even if you aren’t overweight. If at least 25 percent of calories in your daily diet come from added sugar, you are twice as likely to die of heart disease than if your diet included less than 10 percent of total calories from added sugar.
How to Limit Sugar in Your Diet
Limiting sugar in your diet not only decreases your risk of heart disease, but it can also help with your overall health. The American Heart Association recommends that women should not consume more than 24 grams of sugar per day, and men should have no more than 36 grams. Here’s a couple ways to limit your sugar intake:
Read food labels. Beverages like energy drinks can be deceiving because they advertise that they are healthy when they are usually loaded with calories and added sugars. Commons forms of added sugars are sucrose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, syrups, concentrated fruit juice, agave and honey. Read food packaging labels carefully because one container may be more than one serving, which can double or triple the added sugars you’re consuming.
Avoid processed foods. Try to stick to a diet based on whole foods. While sugar is naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables, this type has little effect on your blood sugar and is considered to be pretty healthy. If you are buying food that contains more than five ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable names, reconsider buying.
Avoid sugary drinks. Sugar sweetened beverages such as sodas and sports drinks are by far the biggest sources of added sugar in the average American’s diet. Replace sugary drinks with water! Carry a refillable water bottle or keep a cup at your desk so it’s easy to grab, add slices of your favorite fruits for a boost of flavor or, if you want something fizzy, try sparkling water.
The Bottom Line
Sweet treats are delicious, but consuming too much sugar on a regular basis is not good for your health. You don’t have to shun sugary treats forever, but moderation is the key to staying healthy. Your heart will thank you for it!
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