Features November 2009 Issue

Curb Your Sugar Intake to Lower Heart Risks

Cut back on added sugar from processed and packaged foods for a slimmer waistline and a healthier cardiovascular system.

Obesity is one of the leading contributors to cardiovascular problems, and the amount of added sugar Americans consume—an average of 22.2 teaspoons, or 355 calories, per day—is a major culprit. Researchers found that excessive consumption of added sugars also is associated with higher risks of hypertension, high triglyceride levels and other conditions that increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. To help reduce this dietary health threat, the American Heart Association (AHA) released guidelines calling for reduced intake of added sugars in your diet (Circulation, August 24, 2009). To cut back on added sugar, the first step is to learn which foods are most likely to contain added sugars. "Sugar is often found in processed foods along with refined flours and fats, especially saturated fats. These foods are low in nutrients and, when eaten in place of nutrient-rich foods, they can contribute to malnutrition—yes, you can be overweight and malnourished," says Andrea Dunn, RD, LD, CDE, a dietitian at Cleveland Clinic.

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