During the low- fat era of the 80s, we believed that we should reduce the amount of fat in our diets in order to be healthy. The food industry worked its way around this by replacing fat with added sugar in order to save the taste. People began obsessing over fat and started eliminating all good fats from their diet by eating more refined carbs and “empty calories.” This shift could be the reason why there was an increase in sugar consumption by 39% in the past few decades, according to USDA.gov. The increase in sugar consumption also correlates with an increase in the rate of obesity.
As you may know, being obese can raise your triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels, lower your good cholesterol levels, and increase your blood pressure, chances of diabetes, respiratory problems and osteoarthritis. These health conditions lead to further problems such as heart attacks or strokes, cancer, kidney problems and gallstones.
Previously, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended only reducing the amount of added sugars and limiting cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day. Due to the recent studies showing the relationship between sugar and negative health outcomes, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends (after meeting calorie needs with the 5 food groups) consuming no more than 10% of calories from sugar in added sugar foods. Also, there is no specific limit on the amount of cholesterol we should consume.
These studies show strong evidence that lowering the intake of foods with added sugars is associated with a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. There is moderate evidence showing a reduced risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers in adults with reduced intake of foods with added sugars.
The American Heart Association recommends to further restrict sugar intake for all calorie ranges to no more than 100 calories a day (6 teaspoons or 25 grams) for women and 150 calories a day for men (9 teaspoons or 37 gms.)
It is important to remember that foods with naturally occurring sugars such as milk and fruit are not considered foods with added sugars. Foods with added sugars only contribute empty calories and have no or very little vitamins and minerals. These foods come packaged with many deceiving names such as evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, crystal solids, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup. The largest sources of added sugars are sugar sweetened beverages, baked goods, condiments and refined carbs.
I guess one could say that sugars is the new fat but if we focus on eating a diet rich in nutrient dense foods, we can easily avoid these added sugars.
Living Well Series: Is Sugar the New Fat?
Join Touro to learn how sugar affects your cholesterol, weight, and diabetes risk factors or management. Also, learn the difference between natural sugar and artificial sweeteners, as well as how to break your sugar habit.
Thursday, November 10
Noon – 1 p.m.
Foucher Room, 2nd Floor
Charlotte Lemoine, RD, received her B.S in Nutrition from Louisiana State University. She has interned at Our Lady of the Lake, Children’s Hospital and Earl K. Long. She has been a clinical dietitian at Touro since 2010.