Why Sugar Isn’t So Sweet

Sour News for Your Heart

We can likely cut the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by cutting down on the added sugars used in many processed and prepared meals, suggests a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data. The food industry often defines such added sugars as sweeteners—foods that provide energy, but have few micronutrients or phytochemicals—which is why aware consumers read labels.

In recent decades, total sugar consumption in the United States has increased substantially, resulting in higher risk for cardiovascular disease due to associated lower levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, and higher levels of triglycerides. Today, the average U.S. daily consumption of added sugars averages 3.2 ounces, or about 18 teaspoons, which represents 15.8 percent of total adult caloric intake. This is a substantial increase from the late 1970s, when added sugars contributed only 10.6 percent of the calories consumed by adults. This study is the first to examine the direct link between sugar consumption and its impact on cholesterol and heart disease.

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