Watch your cholesterol, watch your sugar intake

April 22, 2010 by  

Worried about your cholesterol levels? Are you on statins? Are you watching your fat intake? Well, it’s not only the transfats that you have to watch out for. Look out for the added sugar in your food as well. This is according to the results of a recent study by researchers at Emory University in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The researchers looked at more than 6,100 participants and monitored their sugar intake and lipid profiles. The results revealed that:

  • Participants consumed an average of 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day, equivalent to more than 320 calories a day.
  • About 16% of the total daily caloric intake of the participants was from added sugars, up from 11% about 30 years ago.
  • Higher intake of added sugars was associated with lower levels of the good cholesterol HDL and higher levels of triglycerides or blood fats.

So what constitutes as added sugar? Well, it’s anything added to food during the processing and the preparation of food. This would include

  • sugar (table, brown, cooking)
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • honey
  • molasses
  • syrups from brown rice, agave, maple, etc.
  • other caloric sweeteners

Almost everything that we eat besides fresh fruit and 100% juice contains added sugar, from bread and pastries to soft drinks and lemonade.

The researchers recommend that consumers cut down on their consumption of foods with added sugar, a move that doesn’t go well with the food industry.

Senior author Miriam Vos tells USA Today:

“We need to get used to consuming foods and drinks that are less sweet. People have been so focused on fat that we haven’t been focused on sugar, and it’s gotten away from us. This data show we can’t let either one or the other get too high.”

Clinicians warn their patients with hyperlipidemia about reducing their fat intake but gives sugar consumption attention.

Current guidelines from the American Heart Association recommend the following:

  • Women – maximum of 100 calories (6½ teaspoons) a day of added sugars.
  • Men – maximum of 150 calories (9½ teaspoons) a day from added sugars.

Thus it is not only the weight watchers who have to watch their sugar intake. Those who are at risk of cardiovascular disease (high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease) should keep an eye on their sugar as well as fat intake. In the end, a healthy diet is the key to a healthy heart.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.