Protect Your Heart From Sneaky Added Sugars

African American hands holding a coffeeYou’re probably aware that consuming large amounts of added sugars are associated with overweight, obesity, and diabetes. But it might surprise you to know that added sugars also increase your risk for heart disease.

In fact, a study published in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that people who consumed 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of calories from added sugar. Moreover, those who consumed 21 percent or more calories from added sugar had more than double the risk.

According to the JAMA study, most Americans consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day or 352 calories of added sugar, putting them at increased risk of dying from heart disease.

To protect against heart disease associated with added sugars, the American Heart Association recommends women have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day or 100 calories of added sugar and men have no more than 9 teaspoons per day or 150 calories of added sugar.

Just as the word implies, added sugars are added to food. They include:

  • Sugars and syrups that food manufacturers add to products like sodas, yogurt, candies, cereals, and cookies
  • Sugar you add yourself—like the teaspoon of sugar in your coffee

When manufacturers add sugar to foods they’re not increasing nutritional value, just boosting calories. Some foods have sugar naturally—like fruits, vegetables, and milk. Naturally occurring sugars come with many nutritional benefits like fiber in fruit and calcium in milk.