Sugar for Your Sweetheart?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, our thoughts turn to HEARTs, right? And maybe chocolate? Perhaps…but we also need to think about the heart muscle keeping us alive right now, and we have yet another medical study that shows the EXCESS SUGAR in our diets is taking a toll on our heart health.

The recently published Journal of the American Medical Association report, “Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality Among US Adults” confirmed that American adults consume too much added sugar (such as the sugar we directly add to coffee and foods, as well as the “added sugar” in sodas, fruit juices, pastries, and chocolate) with 10% of us getting over one fourth of our daily calories from this category! In addition, people whose diets have over 21 % of their calories from added sugar have a significantly increased risk of heart attacks and strokes- DOUBLE the risk of those who limit these sugars to less than 10% of their diet. If you bump up the daily percentage of added sugar to over 25% of the daily calories, that risk almost TRIPLES.

Now this may seem fairly obvious, because we know obesity is linked to cardiovascular disease, but the interesting part to me is that this increased risk held true even when factoring in our known risk factors such as  obesity, low physical activity, and high cholesterol.

Additionally, this study noted that those of us drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage every day (more than 7/week) also have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared with those who do not. Keep in mind, a soft drink at a restaurant is usually TWO servings, not one, so even one of those every other day would count. I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that drinking one regular (not diet) soda per day will add on 15 pounds per year…so there is definitely some benefit to changing this habit! Sodas are not the only culprit, of course, please note that fruit juice is on the list (yes it has some vitamins in it, but you are better off eating the whole fruit) and the daily coffee addiction can add tremendous numbers on the scale if you are not a “black coffee” kind of person. But I digress…

BOTTOM LINE: Let’s become conscious of the “added sugar” in our diet, and make it less of a habit and more of a treat…and our HEARTS will thank us!

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