Sugar is hidden in lots of our food and has recently become far more hated than “fat” or “cholesterol” these days making it public enemy No. 1 when it comes to health. In fact, in our effort to listen to doctors’ orders to consume less fat and less cholesterol, we have instead turned to “healthy” low-fat foods that are actually loaded with sugar.
In its recent report, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee cited sugar as one of the biggest health concerns and recommended that sugar make up 10 percent or fewer of our daily calorie intake. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your daily calories comes from added sugars (about 6 teaspoons or 100 calories for women, and 9 teaspoons or 150 calories for men). But most of us are eating way more of the sweet stuff than that.
In its natural state, sugar is a relatively harmless—even necessary—carbohydrate that our bodies need to function. It’s found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy as a compound known as fructose or lactose. The problem comes when sugar is added to foods during processing for added flavor, texture, or color. This is more common than you may realize—you don’t have to be in a sweet shop to be surrounded by added sugar.
Eating too many of these empty calories has many health effects, the most obvious being major weight gain. Added sugar drives your insulin levels up, messes with your metabolism, and causes those calories to turn into belly fat. And while losing weight is well and good, that’s just the beginning of the health benefits of cutting back on the sweet stuff. With the help of a recent blog on “My Fitness Pal” we have stated 21 reasons you need to limit your sugar intake.
12 reasons to tame that sweet tooth for good
1. It can lower your blood pressure…
Obesity, one of the main consequences of excessive added sugar intake, is a major risk factor for high blood pressure. New research shows that added dietary sugars can also raise blood pressure. And this is no small thing: High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and arteries and can cause damage over time to the whole circulatory system. Eventually, this can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, kidney damage, artery disease, and other serious coronary conditions.
2. …As well as your bad cholesterol.
People who consume a lot of added sugar are more likely to have lower levels of HDL, or good cholesterol, higher levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and higher levels of triglycerides, or blood fats. Bad cholesterol and blood fats clog up arteries and blood vessels, leading to heart disease.
3. It decreases your heart attack risk.
People with higher added sugar intakes had a notable increase in risk of heart attacks compared to those with lower intakes, one recent study found . One simple swap to cut your risk: Ditch the fizzy soft drinks. One study found that sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. “For every extra soft drink or sugary drink you consume, you may raise your risk of heart disease by up to 25 percent,” says Darria Long Gillespie, M.D., a board-certified emergency physician at Emory University Hospital.
4. It keeps your brain sharp.
You may have been warned that sweets can eat away at teeth enamel, but what’s even scarier is that sugar can eat away at your brain power too. Research shows that eating too much sugar can cause impair cognitive function and reduce proteins that are necessary for memory and responsiveness.
5. You’ll be less likely to have Alzheimer’s and dementia…
A diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps the brain form new memories and remember the past. Levels of BDNF are particularly low in people with an impaired glucose metabolism (diabetics and pre-diabetics) and low BDNF has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.