Americans Strongly Advised to Cut Sugar Consumption

New guidelines released from the American Heart Association urge Americans to reduce their sugar consumption because there is mounting evidence that a high intake of added sugars can lead to a number of health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The new guidelines were headed by lead author Dr. Rachel Johnson and appear in the latest issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

Added sugars consist of sugars and syrups that consumers themselves add to foods, such as sugar in coffee, on cereal, and cookies. Manufacturers also add sugars when they produce food and beverages such as soft drinks, bought cakes, cookies, sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals, ice cream, and doughnuts.

Lead author, Dr. Rachel Johnson, explained that, “One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 130 calories and eight teaspoons of sugar.” She said the intake of added sugars, as opposed to sugar that occurs naturally in food, is a contributing factor to the rise in obesity. Johnson also stated that added sugars are linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, high blood fats, as well as other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Johnson continues, saying, “Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories. Consuming foods and beverages with excessive amounts of sugars displaces more nutritious foods and beverages for many people.” The American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 100 calories of added sugars per day, and men no more than 150 calories.

Lifestyle coach and management medicine physician, Andrea Pennington, MD, states that sugar’s link to internal disease goes even further stating, “If you look at other foods that quickly convert to sugar once digested – the so-called high glycemic index foods - like potatoes, white rice, white bread and pasta, you find that these also increase the risk of premature aging, kidney damage, Alzheimer’s disease and even breast cancer.”

The AHA recommendation says that no more than half of an individual’s “daily discretionary” calories should come from added sugars. This is the amount of calories a person can safely consume after they have eaten enough food in the day to meet their body’s necessary nutrient quota – as long as this person has not exceeded their daily calorie recommendation. Johnson recommends that people use their “daily discretionary” calories to enhance the flavor of essential nutrient rich foods. For example, eating a sweetened yogurt with fruit or a sugar-sweetened whole-grain breakfast cereal.


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