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Less Sugar Each Day Could Keep Heart Doctor Away

September 14, 2009

MANCHESTER, N. H. - Americans are overloading their diets with added sugar that can result in some not-so-sweet consequences down the road. A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) contains specific guidance about limiting sugar consumption. It includes information about the relationship between excess sugar intake and metabolic abnormalities, adverse health conditions and deficiencies in essential nutrients.

Jane Hackett, a clinical specialist in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Exeter Hospital, says the average person consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day - enough to cause big problems.

"Most of the sugars that people get are from the non-nutrient beverages - like soda, syrups and things like that, that they add - that have no nutrient value."

Hackett says the trend of larger portion sizes also contributes to the problem.

"We really need to go back to the 1970s, when it was a two-ounce portion for a bagel, not a five-ounce portion. Just a regular soda now has 12 ounces and contains over 130 calories, and that's equivalent to eight teaspoons of sugar."

The AHA suggests no more than half of a person's daily discretionary calorie allowance should come from added sugars, and defines as "discretionary" those calories from the added sugars and solid fats in foods, as well as from alcoholic beverages. The organization recommends a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish, and offers information on cutting sugar intake online, at

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH