The Journal of the American Medical Association, also known as JAMA, just published a study looking at how our intake of added sugar (defined as caloric sweeteners added to processed or prepared foods) affects our lipids levels (lipids are another name for cholesterol and triglycerides).
The news is not good.
It seems that high intake of added sugars from highly processed foods may actually increase our risk for heart disease.
Because high intakes of added sugars 1) make up a significant proportion of our total daily caloric intake and 2) lower HDL ("good") cholesterol levels, raise triglyceride levels, and increase small LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels - all 3 of these changes INCREASE the risk for heart disease.
What's the problem with added sugar making up such a high proportion of total caloric intake? Added sugar provides more calories but not more nutrients or phytochemicals (plant-based nutrients that can be important to good health).
Data strongly suggest that eating lots of highly processed foods increases not only the risk for heart disease but also the risk for obesity, diabetes, and cavities!
What can we do?
Relax - honestly, relax. If we make some prudent small changes in our diet we can lessen our risk for heart disease.
Throughout the blog postings on this site we often refer to the Mediterranean-style or Asian-style diet, or to an anti-inflammatory diet - these patterns of eating are not only good for us but they also TASTE REALLY GOOD.
One thing all the healthy ways of eating have in common? Very limited intake of highly processed foods.
If you must buy and eat highly refined foods please read the labels carefully as you shop. Look for low sugar options, and limit the intake of foods high in cane or beet sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Eat well, be well.
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