February is American Heart Month. It’s a good a reminder to take care of your heart health. Consuming too much processed sugar may affect your heart in the same negative ways that too much fat and cholesterol does.
Our bodies don’t need sugar to function. Added sugars contain zero nutrients and only add unnecessary calories, which leads to obesity and subsequently affects your heart health. In fact, a 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that a diet high in sugar may put you at a greater risk of dying from heart disease, even if you aren’t overweight. If 25% or more of the calories in your daily diet come from added sugar, you are twice as likely to die of heart disease. Now that’s a sobering thought!
Side Effects of Sugar on Your Heart
Consuming too much sugar may increase your risk of diabetes. And having diabetes greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. According to the American Heart Association, people who have diabetes are twice as likely to have a stroke and are more likely to develop heart disease at an earlier age. And if your diabetes is left unmanaged, it can cause high blood pressure, putting further strain on your heart.
Regularly eating large amounts of processed sugar may damage blood vessels as well by decreasing their elasticity. Once this happens, blood vessels start to narrow, which restricts blood flow, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Triglyceride levels may also increase since sugar stops them from breaking down, which significantly raises a person’s risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
So How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
The average American eats three times the recommended serving of sugar. The American Heart Association suggests that people limit added sugar to no more than 6 percent of your daily calories. In a standard 2,000-calorie diet, that’s just 6 teaspoons of sugar.
Sugar can be hard to avoid, though, since it’s hiding in a lot of the foods we eat. Everything from salad dressing, tomato sauce and yogurt to pretzels, chips and granola bars are harboring hidden sugar.
Tips to Limit Sugar
- Read Food Labels – Sugar often masquerades under different names. Beware of anything that contains brown rice syrup, barley malt, beet sugar, agave and sucrose.
- Skip the Processed Foods – When you’re at the grocery store stick to the outside aisles where the vegetables and fruits are found.
- Say No to Sugary Drinks – Replace soda with carbonated water and a dash of flavored stevia.
- Replace Sugar with Stevia – Some sweeteners may contribute to heart disease, but stevia is an all-natural sweetener and heart-healthy.
Keep your heart healthy this February and all year long by reducing or eliminating processed sugar in your diet. Don’t worry! You’ll still be able to enjoy the sweet flavors you crave by switching to heart-healthy stevia to sweeten your foods and beverages.
Shop our Stevita Stevia products.