I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that extra sugar in our diet is bad – bad for maintaining our weight, and bad for our long term health. But today’s news confirms that fact, thanks to a thorough study published this week that looks at sugar intake and long term risk of heart problems.
The key finding is that those folks who eat a high percent of refined sugar in their daily diet (defined as a % of total calories), have higher long term risk of heart problems. This may not seem like news to all, but this is one of the largest and most thorough studies to make the link.
Here is a quote from the CNN article below:
“Sugar has adverse health effects above any purported role as ‘empty calories’ promoting obesity,” writes Laura Schmidt, a professor of health policy in the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, in an accompanying editorial. “Too much sugar doesn’t just make us fat; it can also make us sick.”
But how much is too much? Turns out not nearly as much as you may think. As a few doctors and scientists have been screaming for a while now, a little bit of sugar goes a long way.
Added sugars, according to most experts, are far more harmful to our bodies than naturally-occurring sugars. We’re talking about the sugars used in processed or prepared foods like sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, candy, ready-to-eat cereal and yeast breads. Your fruits and (natural) fruit juices are safe.
What does this mean for us? Well, it confirms we need to restrict added sugars in our diet, by avoiding the foods mentioned above (and I would add, fruit juice is not ideal – focusing on small portions of whole fruits is probably better). Based on this study, the goal would be to reduce calories from refined sugar to less that 10% of our total (that is not easy to calculate, so better to just minimize foods known to be high in sugar). And since most processed foods have added sugar (even bread), the message is to minimize (or better, eliminate) all processed foods.
Here is the link to a good summary of the findings from cnn.com.
And here is our main article on a heart healthy diet.
Please comment with any advice you’d like to share about how you (or your patients) have been successful at reducing sugar.