According to a recent study by the American Heart Association, too much sugar in your diet could be detrimental to heart health and lead to heart disease. Jean Welsh, MPH, PhD, R.N., study author and post-doctoral fellow at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. stated that "the intake of added sugars is positively associated with known cardiovascular risk factors…consumers of added sugar have more unfavorable cholesterol levels…place[ing] them at risk for heart disease…"
You may have already known this and have taken action. Maybe you've started cutting the white stuff out of your diet; or have resorted to artificially sweetened foods to avoid it altogether. You may have even started reading ingredient lists on a regular basis in hot pursuit of some of the biggest known offenders within the sweet ingredient category (high fructose corn syrup, anyone?). Unfortunately, even with all of these attempts, you may not have scratched the surface.
Sugar comes in many forms, and for the most part, all of these forms are exactly what you are trying to avoid: sugar. Sure, some forms are less processed than others, but added sugar is still sugar. And when it comes to your health, avoiding it in any format is the best strategy.
In order to help you navigate the crazy world of sweetness, here is a list put out by the American Heart Association of all of the aliases of the sweet stuff we should be looking for in our foods:
- Agave nectar
- Brown sugar
- Cane crystals
- Cane juice
- Cane sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup (soon to be known as corn sugar)
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Raw sugar
When it comes to heart health, AHA recommends that women consume no more than 24 grams of added sugar (100 calories or 6 teaspoons) and men no more than 36 grams (150 calories or 9 teaspoons). That said, if you want to avoid it, stick with whole foods. Naturally found sugars, such as those in fruit and in dairy products, don't count towards added sugars, as they are found naturally and are part of the nutritional makeup of the food. Added sugar, however, is exactly that: added…and as the word implies, it adds up quickly.
Do you recognize all of these ingredients? Do you stay under the recommended American Heart Association daily dose?