Well Being

Nutrition Alert: Sugar May Increase Bad Cholesterol and Heart Disease

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A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, but Mary Poppins neglected to add that that it will also lower one's “good” cholesterol and generally increase the likelihood of heart disease (probably because it's hard to rhyme “triglycerides”). While it's well-documented that consuming too much sugar (including beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and honey) makes us more prone to type 2 diabetes and gaining extra pounds, a recent study from researchers at Emory University now also confirms that the sweet stuff has negative effects on cholesterol levels in humans — particularly women.

Nutrition expert Joy Bauer continues with some bad news:  It can be tricky to reduce one's sugar intake since “‘added sugars' aren't specifically listed on nutrition labels.” However, Bauer does add her own advice for lowering your sugar intake:

  1. Just say “no” to soda and sugary drinks (these include sports drinks and high-calorie cocktails). Instead, reach for good ol' water or a naturally flavored seltzer water.
  2. Be stingy when adding sugars or other sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup. This includes watching how much you're putting into coffee or on oatmeal (Bauer recommends no more than one to two teaspoons).
  3. Check out how much sugar is added to packaged foods and choose wisely. According to Bauer, “cereals should have no more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.”
  4. It's okay to splurge occasionally, but be strategic about it. Indulge in either a daily treat of 150 calories, or something more decadent once or twice a week.

Bottom line: Hold the sugar when you can – you're sweet enough already.

photo: Thinkstock