Too much added sugar in a diet can be counterproductive to good health. Many people don't realize just how much extra sugar they are getting in their diet - be it from juice drinks, cookies, jam, or other. There are so many sources that are not as healthy, or not at all healthy, as opposed to the natural form found in fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind that the healthiest way to get these natural sugars is from the consumption of whole food fruits and vegetables.
A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, provides specific guidance on limiting the consumption of added sugars. This document also offers AHA's recommendations on specific levels and limits on the consumption of added sugars.
The statement says that most women should consume no more than 100 calories, or about six teaspoons, of added sugars per day and most men should consume no more than 150 calories, or about nine teaspoons, each day. In contrast, the statement cites a report from the 2001-04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that showed the average intake of added sugars for all Americans was about 22 teaspoons per day.
The study classifies all sugars and syrups added to foods during processing or preparation, as well as sugars and syrups added at the table, as added sugars. It states that a high intake of added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars, is implicated in the rise in obesity and also associated with increased risks for high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and inflammation, which is a marker for heart disease.
According to the statement, sodas and other sugar-sweetened or juice beverages are the number one source of added sugars in Americans' diet, with one 12-ounce can of regular soda containing about 130 calories and eight teaspoons of sugar.
The statement's lead author Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., associate provost and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington, says that sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories.
The American Heart Association recommends a dietary pattern that is rich in fruits and vegetables, and contains low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish. This statement expands on earlier recommendations by recommending a specific upper limit on added-sugars intake and also recommends that no more than half of a person's daily discretionary calorie allowance come in the form of added sugars. Added sugars, solid fats in food, and alcoholic beverages are categorized as discretionary calories and should be eaten sparingly.
"This statement simply reinforces the fact that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is important for the prevention of many chronic diseases," said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® national public health initiative. "Eating a variety fruits and vegetables provides a wide range of valuable nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals, without added sugars." (source)
Bottom line: A diet rich in whole food fruits and vegetables is going to support healthy arteries, normal blood pressure, and overall better cardiovascular health... than a diet without fruits and vegetables and/or that contains lots of fatty fast foods or high-salt foods. The body was not designed to be fed lots of processed foods with man-made chemicals and additives. Good health, including a normal weight, is much better maintained by eating predominantly ripened, raw whole food fruits and vegetables.
If you don't or won't get the minimum recommended each day, add Juice Plus+ to your daily consumption.