Buying a loved one a box of Valentine’s candy may win her heart, but it could also damage it permanently. Sugar has been proven to lead to heart disease, which would be accelerated by Valentine treats.
Sugar has been linked to increased risk of death from a heart problem. So, even those who do not have any obesity problem or are potentially diabetic need to manage their consumption of sugar.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows a link between sugar or other caloric sweeteners added in preparing meals (or candy) increase the risk of developing heart disease, including high blood pressure, hypertension, high triglyceride levels and high cholesterol rates.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted the study using data on approximately 30,000 adults representing a mix of age, race, and education levels. People who were already suffering from heart disease, diabetes, or cancer were excluded.
The study looked at added sugar in their diets consumed in sweetened beverages, desserts, dairy products, breakfast cereals and candy. Compared with people who consume 8 percent of their calories each day from added sugar, those who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their daily calories from sugary foods increased their risk of heart disease by 38 percent. The risk doubled for those who consumed more.
Experts disagree on what level is too much, but the Americans in the research project clearly consumed more. The World Health Organization recommends added sugar by limited to 10 percent of a day’s calories. The American Heart Association recommends half of that amount. The average consumption levels in the study ranged from 14.9 percent to 16.8 percent over the period reviewed, surpassing the WHO standard. Only 29 percent of those studied were within the WHO limit. About 10 percent got 25 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.
It makes sense that heart disease is accelerated by eating a large box of Valentine treats, but that is a once-a-year occasion. To put the recommendations in an every day perspective, two cans of regular soda, or a large serving in a fast-food restaurant, exceed the limit for a normal, 2,000 calorie-a-day diet.
So are all sugars bad? No. Naturally occurring sugar found in fruit and other items is not an issue. It is specifically sugar added in making the food or beverage. This includes brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey maple syrup and molasses.
A war on sugar had already begun to address the U.S. obesity problem. Former NY major Michael Bloomberg drew a lot of attention when he tried to ban super-sized soft drinks. The move may have been declared unconstitutional, but he did heighten awareness of the impact sodas have on obesity. However, this new study showed that those without a weight problem also might need to change their diet. A low-calorie diet can be unhealthy if the calories come from sugar.
Cutting back on empty calories from sugar means limiting sweets and encouraging healthy options. Given the new data on heart disease, a relationship accelerated by a box of Valentine treats might not be long-lived.