Too much added sugar can be one of the greatest threats to cardiovascular disease.
Sugar has a bittersweet reputation when it comes to health. Sugar occurs naturally in all foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy. Consuming whole foods that contain natural sugar is okay. Plant foods also have high amounts of fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants, and dairy foods contain protein and calcium.
Since your body digests these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to your cells. A high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease. Excess consumption of sugar, especially in sugary beverages, also contributes to weight gain by tricking your body into turning off its appetite-control system because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods. This is why it is easier for people to add more calories to their regular diet when consuming sugary beverages.
“The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Subtracting added sugar
Reading food labels is one of the best ways to monitor your intake of added sugar. Look for the following names for added sugar and try to either avoid or cut back on the amount or frequency of the foods where they are found:
- brown sugar
- corn sweetener
- corn syrup
- fruit juice concentrates
- high-fructose corn syrup
- invert sugar
- malt sugar
- syrup sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).
The more you know:
Consuming too much added sugar increases heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and inflammation. High-sugar diets have been linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.
A diet rich in added sugar and processed foods may increase depression risk in both men and women.
Sugary foods can increase the production of age, which can accelerate skin aging and wrinkle formation.
Eating too much sugar can accelerate the shortening of telomeres, which increases cellular aging.
High-sugar foods can negatively impact your energy levels by causing a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash.
Consuming too much sugar may worsen cognitive decline, increase gout risk, harm your kidneys and cause cavities.
Consuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages, increases your risk of weight gain and can lead to visceral fat accumulation.
Sugar is not unhealthful in itself. However, consuming a natural source of sugar is better for health than consuming added sugars. Having excess sugar in the diet can cause a range of unhealthy conditions. To be aware of added sugars in food products, it is important to read labels carefully.
Check out this story on greatist.com/health/sugar-and-inflammation : Does Sugar really cause Inflammation?