Home  >  Carol LeBeau's Health Journal  >  Carol's Health Journal

The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar
By Carol LeBeau
6/4/2014 10:14:09 AM


–FULL BIO
 

I drive my coffee-loving friends crazy. Don’t get me wrong. I love coffee, but only if it’s masked with every accoutrement available. By the time I’m done with it, my morning dark roast is the color of my husband’s khakis!

For years, I’ve justified my breakfast treat –half and half, two teaspoons of sugar and a little coffee because, for the most part, I eat healthfully the rest of the day.

But recent news about the relationship between sugar and heart disease has got me thinking I may need to learn to drink my java black. A report from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) comes with a stern warning: eating too much sugar can be deadly!  

Now, I hate to be alarmist about food studies, but this research is compelling.

The problem isn’t with sugar found naturally in foods.  But the largest study of its kind reveals consuming too much added sugar – found in regular soft drinks, cakes, cookies and candy dramatically increases your risk of death from heart disease.

According to one of the study’s authors, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of sugar.  

Adults, on average, consume about 15 percent of their daily calories – about 300 calories a day from added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 100 calories a day from added sugars – about six teaspoons. Men should keep it to about nine teaspoons. (BTW: One can of regular soda has about 140 calories of added sugar.)

But just as I began congratulating myself for not drinking sugary soda, there’s this: 

Added sugars in the CDC report also include table sugar (the stuff I add to my breakfast brew) brown sugar (which I love atop an otherwise healthy bowl of hot oatmeal) high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey (Yikes! Last night I drizzled honey over a slice of cornbread!), molasses and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods and beverages (I guess that includes the handful of M&M’s I nibbled on while working at my computer.) 

Busted! Clearly – without even realizing it, I can blow right through my 100-calorie sugar limit…even if I’m making otherwise healthy food choices.  Bottom line, sugar is everywhere and we need to be intentional about keeping intake to a minimum.

And if the risk of heart attack isn’t enough incentive, other research has tied a high intake of added sugars to obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for stroke. With all that’s at stake, it may just be worth keeping an eye on how much sugar you add to your diet each day.  

As Rachel Johnson, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association points out, “Now we know that too much added sugar doesn’t just make us fat – it could cause a heart attack.” 

Guess I’ll take my cuppa joe with a little half and half, thank you. Hold the sugar.