We all have a sweet spot for sugar. Sugar-loaded candies and cakes instantly uplift our mood and make us happy at any given point. In fact, if you notice, many of us keep indulging in sugar-loaded foods throughout the day. If you are someone who loves starting the day with a spoonful of sugar in your tea or often picks up soft drinks and packaged juice to quench your thirst, then mind you, you are having a lot of sugar! While we totally agree that sugar adds flavour to your drinks and dishes, it also loads you up with too many calories. And as per, a recent study, having too many calories (specifically added sugar) may elevate the risks of heart disease and stroke.
Also Read: Is Sugar Really Bad For Your Health? Here're 5 Facts You Need To Keep In Mind
Side-effects of excess sugar intake: Why added sugar is bad for your heart?
According to health experts, a higher intake of added sugar is linked with higher triglyceride levels in the body, which is known to further reduce blood flow in the heart. A recent study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, analysed a group of 1,10,947 participants, aged between 37 and 73. It was a study conducted over a period of nine years.
As a part of the research, participants recorded what they ate for 24 hours. "The researchers compared this data with health records detailing the diagnosis of cardiovascular conditions and risk factors such as triglyceride levels," the study read.
By the end of the study, the researchers found that higher intake of added sugar was linked to higher cardiovascular disease-related incidence and "higher triglyceride concentrations within all lipoproteins".
The researchers further stated that higher consumption of fibre-rich food and replacing refined grain and added sugar with wholegrain and sugar alternatives respectively may help promote heart health.
What are the side effects of added sugar?
1. Weight gain and obesity:
Consuming excess added sugar loads you up with empty calories that are not nutritionally beneficial. The excess calories remain stored in the body as fat, leading to weight gain.
2. Increase diabetes risk:
Regular consumption of added sugar can increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. This is because high sugar intake can cause insulin resistance, which impairs the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
3. Reduce immune function:
Eating too much sugar may also reduce your immune function, making you more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
4. Nutrient deficiencies:
Consuming too much added sugar may displace nutrient-dense foods in your diet, leading to nutrient deficiencies over the time. This can negatively affect your overall health and well-being.
5. Affect oral health:
Added sugar is known to promote the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities. The bacteria use the sugar as a source of energy, producing acid that can erode tooth enamel.
Also Read: 9 Best Sugar-Free Desserts To Try At Home
What is the healthiest way to cut out sugar?
We found you some expert tips on how to cut down on sugar effectively, in your everyday diet. These recommendations are shared by the American Heart Association on their official website. Take a look.
5 Effective Ways To Cut Down On Sugar - Recommends American Heart Association:
1. Eliminate table sugar:
Try to avoid adding white sugar, brown sugar, honey or any kind of syrup in your tea, coffee or breakfast cereal. You may start by reducing the usual amount by half and then stop gradually. Instead, use natural sugar like fruits and dry fruits to add sweetness to your dish.
2. Swap soda with water:
Let's agree, water is the best thirst quencher. So, it's always better to drink water instead of sugary beverages when you feel thirsty. Also, replace your packaged fruit juice with fruits (and fresh fruit juice) and coconut water for better hydration.
3. Check ingredient labels on packets:
Always choose products with the lowest amount of added sugar. Hence, it is important to check the package, every time you buy a food ingredient or beverage.
4. Try extracts:
Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts like almond, vanilla, orange or lemon. You may also use spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to enhance the taste and flavour of a dish. Click here to know about healthy sugar alternatives.
5. Limit alternative sweeteners:
If you thought replacing sugar with saccharin, stevia or other non-nutritive sweeteners is healthy, then you are absolutely mistaken. While it is okay to add some amount of it to your meal to satisfy your sweet tooth, that doesn't mean you end up having a lot of it. Always remember, moderation is the key!
Follow these healthy diet tips and enjoy a happy heart for the longest!
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.