For a long time, people have known that too much sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, and other heart conditions. However, recent research has shed light on the connection between excess sugar intake and high cholesterol levels.

What is added sugar?

Added sugar is any caloric sweetener that is used during the manufacture of canned (or processed) foods. Although added sugar does increase calories, they actually do not offer any nutritional value. The American Heart Association has released guidelines on the recommended sugar intake. According to this, a man should only have at most 150 calories of added sugar, while the number is 100 for the fairer sex. That translates into 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Many people exceed this daily limit without knowing how much damage they are doing to their health. A 355 ml soda can may contain up to 10 teaspoons. If a breakfast cereal contains 16 mg sugar per serving, it means you have already had 4 out of your 6-teaspoon sugar limit (if you are a woman) just by eating breakfast.

Studies have shown a clear connection between sugar intake and HDL and triglyceride levels. Higher sugar intake could be linked to lower levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) and higher triglycerides.

Controlling your sugar intake

It’s important to learn how to identify sugar when reading food labels because manufacturers are not likely to put the word “sugar” there. So, how do you know? The rule of thumb is to look for ingredients such as corn syrup, honey, malt sugar, molasses, syrup, corn sweetener, and possibly any ingredients ending in “ose” such as glucose and fructose. Sugar can also sneak into your food under the name “evaporated cane juice.” Most fruit drinks are full of added sugar.

Besides, you also need to be careful when using sugar substitutes as not all of them are created equally. More importantly, some even carry risks. Agave and honey are often used as sugar substitutes. However, they, in fact, still contain sugar molecules. It’s recommended to try plant-based sweeteners like stevia instead.

After all, the key to staying healthy is to monitor your sugar intake, just like the way you are supposed to do with alcohol, saturated fats, and calories. Of course, you can still enjoy sweets once in a while, just don’t overindulge in sugary treats.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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