We read articles all the time discussing the dangers of sugar: the ingredient that is single handedly killing us!

Well, lo and behold, the American Heart Association (AHA) stood up to the food industry and essentially made eating and drinking a lot of items in the supermarket off-limits.


Sugar has earned a spot on the AHA’s black list — basically a “negative nutrient” that needs to be limited for your heart’s sake (and, really, every other organ in your body too).

Keep in mind that when we say “added sugars” — these are sweeteners that are used primarily in processed packaged foods and beverages—think sodas, fruit drinks, cereals, and desserts.  That doesn’t mean fruit, dairy, and veggies, which all have natural sugars.  So don’t take this as a suggestion to stop eating fruits and veggies.  That’s taking smart guidelines and applying them to what you may want to hear.

The AHA recommends that added sugar intake be limited to 100 calories (25 grams, or 6 teaspoons) per day for women, and to 150 calories (about 37 grams, or 9 teaspoons) per day for men.  To be honest, even less would be even better…but happy with this start!

Keep in mind that now, the average American eats over 350 calories each day in sugar alone (about 22 teaspoons, or nearly 3-12 oz cans of soda)!  Talk about a way to make sure you gain belly fat and ruin your health!

Here’s the deal.

Adding sugar to your diet is like pouring mud down your throat.  Gross, right?  Yeah, they have about the same amount of nutrients — actually, the mud probably has more!

The study I’m referring to was published in AHA’s Scientific Journal, Circulation … and they talk about the link between high sugar intake and insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes.  Of course we can also point to the increase in belly fat from too much sugar, which can lead to basically every other disease known to man.

Very simply, we are OVERFED YET UNDERNOURISHED!!!  And added sugars need to go.

In fact, the AHA has a very strong conclusion in their study: “There is sufficient evidence to link excessive sugar intake to the pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease.”

Scary stuff.  That is, unless you’re not “in the know.”

Tricks to limit added sugars

This is what I do to limit added sugars and make sure I don’t throw my overall “diet” in the toilet.

  • Eat whole foods with a max of 5 ingredients each (preferably just 1 ingredient) — fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, grains, & fish, as each are void of added sugars.
  • If it comes in a package, leave it on the shelf (think snacks, pastries, cookies, most breakfast cereals, etc)
  • Leave a food on the shelf if it has any of these as the first few ingredients: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, sugar (dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, syrup.

And just to give you an idea — here are a few of the major culprits of added sugar in Americans’ diets.

  • Regular soft drinks: 33% contribution to total added sugar intake
  • Straight sugar and candy: 16%
  • Cakes, cookies, pies: 13%
  • Fruit drinks and “-ades” (not 100% fruit juice): 10%
  • Dairy (watch out for sweetened yogurt and ice cream): 8.5%
  • Grain-based foods (watch out for most breakfast cereals, waffles, and other similar foods): 6%

Kudos to the American Heart Association … most governing bodies haven’t stepped it up and made such a bold move.                                                          Chris Mohr, Combine 360 – 3/2011