The Impact of Sugar on Your Heart

WZZM Take 5 Segment Scoop the Sugar out of Your Diet

WZZM Take 5 Segment
Scoop the Sugar out of Your Diet

Did you know the “other white crystal” AKA sugar can raise your risk for heart disease?

The Case Against Sugar

Research published in the January 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine measured our risk for heart disease based on how much sugar we consume, regardless of our age, sex, level of physical activity and our weight to height ratio (BMI.)

· Participants who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who consumed < 8 percent of their calories from added sugar.

· Participants who consumed 21 percent or more calories from added sugar doubled their risk for heart disease.

This connection between blood pressure and sugar isn’t new. Research from the 1989 Nurse’s Health Study showed a 28-44% increase in high blood pressure with high intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages. Ongoing research from the Framingham study, showed a 20% increase in high blood pressure for people who drank more than 1 sweetened soft drink per day as compared to those who never drank sweetened soft drinks. Research conducted by DiNicolantonio and Lucan found that individuals who consumed 74 grams of fructose a day, the amount found in the equivalent of 2, 12 ounce sodas per day, had a 77 percent increase for blood pressure above 160/110 mm Hg. The healthy level is 120/80 mm Hg.

How Sugar Harms Your Heart

Sugar damages blood vessels and raises inflammation in the following ways:

  • Increased uric acid levels raise blood pressure and cholesterol by damaging the walls of our blood vessels.
  • Increased risk of periodontal disease, tooth decay and bacteria that increase inflammation.
  • Increased risk for excess weight due to additional calories.
  • Increased risk for higher blood sugar levels which damage blood vessels throughout the body.

What’s the Limit?

The average U.S. adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day. That’s close to four times the recommended amount for women and more than double that for men.

AHA Recommendation

The American Heart Association recommends:

  • No more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for women.
  • No more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.

The 2005-1010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed the following percentage of calories from added sugars:

  • 12.7 percent in adult males
  • 13.2 percent in adult females
  • 16 percent in children and adolescents

In children, 40 percent of these calories come from added liquid sugar in the form of soda and other sweetened beverages

How to Scoop Sugar Out of Your Diet

Just as the majority of sodium does not come from the salt shaker, the majority of sugar doesn’t come from you sugar bowl.

Swap this In Gms of Sugar Swap this Out Gms of Sugar
Regular Oatmeal 1 Instant Oat Peach N Cream 12
Water 0 Coca Cola 65
Plain Yogurt 6 Fruit in the Bottom 19
Orange 13 Oreos (3) 14

Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are the leading source of added sugars in the American diet. The sugar found in natural sources, whole fruits and vegetables (fructose), low-fat dairy (lactose) are healthful additions. For example, when you eat an orange you are getting a lot of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber in addition to the natural sugar.

  1. Avoid sugar as one of the first three ingredients on the nutrition label. Examples include: sucrose (table sugar), corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit-juice concentrates, nectar, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, fructose sweeteners, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, or other words ending in “-ose,” the chemical suffix for sugars. The total amount of sugar in a food is listed under “Total Carbohydrate” on the Nutrition Facts label.
  2. Enjoy more water, less regular soda, sports and energy drinks, sweetened teas and sugary coffee drinks.
  3. Cut back on the amount of sugar you add to things that you eat or drink like syrup on pancakes, sugar in coffee, tea or oatmeal and pasta sauce on spaghetti.
  4. Choose cereal and breakfast bars containing less than 8 grams of sugar
  5. Swap out cakes, cookies, pies, candy and frozen desserts for whole fruit or crunch vegetables.
  6. Limit baked goods including donuts, waffles, bagels and muffins for special occasions or make them from scratch.
  7. Cut the sugar in your baked goods by 1/3, replacing with equal parts unsweetened applesauce, additional extracts and spices.
  8. Be smart about hidden sugars found in foods such as ketchup, spaghetti and pizza sauces and flavored yogurt
  9. Choose no sugar added or packed in natural juice for canned and frozen fruits. Avoid fruit canned in syrup, especially heavy syrup.

Bottom Line: These results are not a green light for sodium rich foods. They are a red light to cut the excess sugar out of your diet.

Categories: Nutrition & Wellness

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1 reply


  1. Is Your Diet C.R.A.P.: Calorie Rich and Processed? – The Dietitian's Digest

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