In order to maintain a healthy heart, surely you know you should exercise, maintain a healthy weight and eat a low fat diet.
But did you know consuming added sugars is also a culprit? Too much added sugar increases the risk of dying from heart disease – even for people who are at a normal weight.
February is American Heart Month a time we focus on the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
A growing body of evidence suggests a high intake of added sugars – those not naturally occurring in foods, but rather added during processing – raises the risks of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
And in particular, sugar-sweetened beverages can play havoc with your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. This is according to a 2020 Tufts University study. Specifically, drinking more than 12 ounces of sweet drinks a day was linked to a 98% higher risk of low HDL (or good cholesterol) and a 53% higher risk of high triglycerides.
Added sugars come from where?
If you eschew sweets such as cookies, candy, cakes and the like, your diet may still be heavy in added sugar. Why? You may be consuming them in a glass or cup.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest sources of added sugars in the American diet.
In fact, nearly half the added sugar in an average American diet comes from beverages!
Surprising sources of added sugars:
Sugar in grams
Sugar in teaspoons
Flavored iced tea
|Gin & tonic
How much is too much?
It’s advised we limit our added sugars to 100 calories (6 teaspoons) a day for women and children, and to 150 calories (9 teaspoons) for men.
Simple steps to slash the sugar
Sooooo, rethink your drink and make some simple changes. Here are a few ideas:
- Switch to flavored seltzers
- Add a splash of 100% juice to plain seltzer or ice water
- Put a carafe of water in the fridge and add berries or sliced citrus fruit like lemons, oranges or limes
- When ordering a cocktail or mixing one at home, stir in a sugar free mixer, such as Skinnies into sparkling water and add a splash of tequila or vodka, instead of ordering a sugary mixed drink