Heart Health Updates (17 May 2010)

sugar 
Good Day Alabama
17 May 2010

Watch this segment on Good Day Alabama.

In the past few weeks we've seen some tweaking to heart health recommendations. Saturated fat, though still not good for us, may not be as bad as we thought.  Another study points a finger at added sugar as a culprit.

So here's the big heart health tip in a nutshell:  cut back on the added sugar and ramp up the good fats.

Sugar and Heart Disease: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the higher the sugar intake among over 6000 adults, the lower their HDL's. HDLs are the good cholesterol carriers in your blood that you want to be high. This study did not show that the sugar caused the lower HDLs - just that the two were related. Higher sugar intake was also related to higher LDLs and higher triglycerides in women.

The sugar that the researchers recommend that we cut back on is added sugar - not the natural sugar in things like fruit, milk, and 100% juices. These foods are good sources of many healthy nutrients like calcium and potassium that can actually lower your blood pressure and thus, your risk of heart disease.

  • Cut back on the obvious high sugar foods like sodas, sweet tea, cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats. Don't cut out healthy foods that may have some sugar added like yogurt.
  • Look for added sugar on the ingredients list. But don't just look for the word "sugar". Added sugar is also:
  • Corn sweetener
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sucrose

Saturated Fat Not Such a Big Deal? Don't start filling up on the prime rib just yet but getting more of the healthy unsaturated fat may be more important than simply cutting back on the sat fat.

  • What is saturated fat? Saturated fat is the kind of fat in animal foods and the fats that are hard at room temperature.
  • Focus on fats like oils, avocadoes, nuts and seeds, and hummus.

 Beth Kitchin, MS, RD
Assistant Professor Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham