By Frank Boateng
You may want to think twice if you reach for that large soft drink. Your daily sugar intake will increase your chances of dying from heart disease, according to a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“What the study shows is that people who get 25 per cent of their daily calories from added sugar had almost triple the risks of dying from heart disease,” Theresa Albert, registered nutritionist and food communications consultant, told Humber News on Thursday.
“I think the findings are pretty shocking actually when you think about how little added sugar it takes to have an impact on heart disease.”
According to Statistic Canada, on average, Canadians consumed about 110.0 grams of sugar a day in 2004, the equivalent of 26 teaspoons, with adolescent males ranking at the top of the chart.
Albert, who works in downtown Toronto, says the amount of sugar intake by Canadians is hazardous to health.
“Sugar itself, increases blood pressure and obviously contributes to weight gain, which are both factors for heart disease,” she said.
“It can raise the bad cholesterol and triglyceride in the blood stream which both contribute to diabetes, and with low good cholesterol that contributes to dementia, as well as heart disease,” said Albert.
Albert says adolescents need to look at what they eat, as most are unaware of the hidden sugar in the foods they choose.
“The hidden stuff that you may think is healthy isn’t,” said Albert.
“There is sugar in bagels, there is sugar in pizza crust, there is sugar in chicken wings and barbecue sauce. It’s those hidden things that the adolescents need to become aware off – to look at all the things they are eating and not just the obvious.”
Five hundred extra calories a day is coming from added sugar on average, which is equivalent to two cokes, a donut and a slice of pizza, which triples your risk of heart disease, Albert says.
Andrew Stewart, 20, a second year HVAC student at Humber Colleges north campus was astonished to find out what he would normally eat could be harmful.
“This is all very new to me,” said Stewart “Hearing this makes me want to change my eating habits, but as you and I both know, that’s easier said than done,” he said.
“Though I don’t intend on changing that anytime soon, I think I’ll be good. I’m active. I play sports on my down time and workout so I’m not too concerned.”
While Health Canada does not provide specific guidelines on sugar, it does suggest ways to eat healthy in the Canada Food Guide, including a list of foods that are high in calories, fat, sugar or salt.