Your heart health: is sugar more deadly than salt?
A heart healthy diet means cutting back on salt, right? Maybe not. New evidence shows doctors were unfairly blaming the wrong white seasoning.
An analysis published in the journal Open Heart suggests heart healthy guidelines should stress how sugars raise blood pressure and increase your chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke more than salt.
The biggest culprit is fructose corn syrup.
This cheap sweetener is found in nearly every popular processed food that comes from a bag, box, or can. Although processed foods are usually high in salt too, the analysis authors found results from cutting salt “are debatable.” Because the average benefits were so small.
The authors go on to suggest 3-6 grams of salt daily may be optimal for health. And cutting intake below 3 grams/day may be harmful. In case you’re wondering, 1 teaspoon of salt equals about 4 grams.
Based on this, it may be alright to eat up to 1 ½ teaspoons of salt daily. But sugar is another story…
The data found your heart disease risk goes up nearly 300% when you eat enough sugar daily to total at least a quarter of your daily calories. As opposed to those whose sugar calories add up to less than 10% of their daily overall calories.
Eating 25% of your calories in sugar may sound like a lot, but it’s easier to do than you may think. Consider this:
A Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad contains 40 grams of sugar, or 10 teaspoons of sugar..
A single can of soda packs in 44 grams, equal to 11 teaspoons…
And a medium (16 oz). Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino® contains 64 grams of sugar. Imagine scooping 16 teaspoons of sugar into a glass and drinking it!
Even more alarming, the analysis found U.S. teenagers eat up to 16X the daily recommended sugar limit. In addition to the other health risks, they’re setting themselves up for heart disease while they’re still in high school.
The research authors warn, “The evidence is clear that even moderate doses of added sugar for short durations may cause substantial harm.”
They go on to remind us that most of our salt doesn’t come from the shaker. Likewise, most of our sugar intake doesn’t come from the sugar bowl. Its hidden in the everyday foods we eat and may think are healthy. Remember that Wendy’s salad? It contains 10 teaspoons of sugar – that’s without the dressing.
When looking at convenience foods be sure to read the nutrition label first. And remember, it’s not how much sugar is in that one item. It’s how much you’ve had all day that matters.