It’s no surprise that too much sugar in your anti-aging diet will not only pack on the pounds, but can seriously impact your overall health. New research has now revealed just how deadly excessive sugar in your anti-aging diet can be.
A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that if at least 25% of the daily calories in your anti-aging diet come from added sugar (as opposed to the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables), you could be more than doubling your risk of succumbing to fatal heart disease.
The study compared those who consumed the least amount of added sugar in their daily anti-aging diet against those who consumed the most (more than 21% of their caloric intake). The results showed that those who consumed less than 10% added sugar saw an increased risk of about 18%, but those in the highest sugar consumption group saw an increase of 38%—that’s more than twice the risk. And the findings remained consistent despite factors that were independent from the anti-aging diet, like weight, total calories consumed, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and level of physical activity.
The scary part is that it really doesn’t take much in your anti-aging diet to put you in that high-risk group. To put it in perspective, drinking just one 20-ounce can of soda—the main source of added sugar for Americans—would make up 15% of your daily caloric intake, based on an average 2,000-calorie diet. That means drinking two cans a day, not even including all of the other added sugar in your anti-aging diet, would put you way over.
There are a few reasons why too much added sugar in your anti-aging diet can result in fatal heart disease. Sugar is known to increase blood pressure and, of course, weight gain—both of these are high risk factors for developing heart disease. Too much sugar in your anti-aging diet can also cause inflammation in your body and affect cholesterol levels by increasing “bad” LDL cholesterol while decreasing the “good” cholesterol—these are also known risk factors for heart disease.
Although specific guidelines vary with regards to how much added sugar you should be consuming in your anti-aging diet, one thing is clear: many Americans are still eating too much of it, partly because there’s no real limit set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on how much sugar can be added to processed foods. That means it’s up to you to monitor how much sugar you’re actually consuming in your anti-aging diet on a daily basis.
Here are a few tips to help you get a handle on the sugar in your anti-aging diet:
• Know what to look for. Added sugar can appear in a few different forms on nutrition labels, like fructose, glucose, corn syrups, honey, maltose, corn sweetener, malt syrup, maple syrup, or raw sugar. Be especially wary of foods that contain more than one of these added sugar aliases.
• Stop stocking your kitchen. Take a proactive approach to improving your anti-aging diet by refraining from buying foods and drinks that are high in added sugar. You won’t eat them if they’re not lying around.
• Snack healthy. When a sugar craving strikes, satisfy it with natural sugars instead. There are many other sweet fruits to choose from that come with other health benefits as well. If you really need a chocolate fix, go for dark chocolate instead, which contains antioxidants that actually benefit your anti-aging diet.
• Eat a good breakfast. If your anti-aging diet includes a hearty breakfast packed with protein and fiber every morning, you’ll be less likely to crave sugar later on in the day.
• Portion control. Managing your anti-aging diet is easier when you eat small, healthy portions spread throughout the day. If you wait until you’re starving to eat, you’re likely going to turn to processed junk foods because they’re quick and easy. Plus, eating healthy portions every three to five hours helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which means you won’t be inclined to binge eat.
• Reward yourself. It isn’t easy cutting added sugar out of your anti-aging diet, especially if it’s something you’ve gotten used to. Rewarding yourself serves as motivation for sticking to it.
• Monitor your anti-aging diet. Write down what you’re eating and how much sugar it contains. At the end of the day, add it all up. When you keep track of what you’re eating and see it all down on paper, it’s easier to see where you need to cut down. After all, it’s hard to ignore when it’s right there in your face.
Fries, W.C., “13 Ways to Fight Sugar Cravings,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/13-ways-to-fight-sugar-cravings, last accessed February 5, 2014.
Tinker, B., “Sugar not only makes you fat, it may make you sick,” CNN Health web site, February 3, 2014; http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/03/sugar-not-only-makes-you-fat-it-may-make-you-sick/comment-page-5/.
Walton, A.G., “New Evidence That Sugar Is Harming Our Hearts,” Forbes web site, February 3, 2014; http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/02/03/more-evidence-that-sugar-is-harming-our-hearts/.