It’s hard to go on any Internet site without seeing a “Top Foods to Never Eat” pop-up blinking across your screen. Bananas are among the “banned” foods on the misplaced premise that fruit sugar increases belly fat. Such misleading anti-produce propaganda has some dieters limiting fruit. Instead, they may end up limiting their lifespan.
In a study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers sought to find out how much added sugar U.S. adults consume by analyzing data from national health surveys between 1988 and 2010. Lead author Quanhe Yang and his colleagues examined the influence of lifestyle on outcomes of health of 31,000 men and women with an average age of 44, finding that sugars from whole fruits offered protection against heart disease morbidity — while added sugars have the opposite effect.
“Our findings indicate that most U.S. adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet,” the authors wrote. “A higher percentage of calories from added sugar is associated with significantly increased risk of [heart disease] mortality.” To be specific, participants who consumed more than 25% calories from added sugars had an increased risk of 275% comparing to those who consumed less than 10% calories from added sugars.
To date, studies have coupled the intake of sugar in processed or prepared foods — sugar-sweetened beverages, cream and dairy desserts, candy, and cereals — with the prevalence of cancer and other chronic diseases, including obesity, but this is the first study to “look at the total amount of added sugar and the association to cardiovascular disease death,” Yang says.
The American Heart Association recommends that added sugars should be limited to 25 grams or six teaspoons a day for women and 38 grams or nine teaspoons a day for men.