Monday, April 14, 2014

Cut Sugar Intake To Half For Better Health!

According to a study published in January 2014 in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine’, consuming too much sugar could significantly raise the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).

The study found that people who took in between 17 and 21 percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.

Does this means sugar is something bad for the health? This is not entirely true. Human body needs sugar to function. Naturally occurring sugar that is found in some fruits, vegetables and milks is basically healthy. It is the added sugar that is bad for the body.

Sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed are called added sugar. Sugar-sweetened drinks, fruit drinks, candy, cakes and grain-based desserts are some that contain added sugar. As added sugars are high in energy, they have been accused of contributing to obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol.

On March 5, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that the daily sugar intake should be just 5 percent of the total calories intake, equivalent to around 25 grams (around 6 teaspoons) of sugar for an adult of normal BMI (body mass index). The new guideline is only half of what WHO had recommended more than a decade ago (since 2002).

New guideline was formulated based on a review of about 9,000 studies on the consumption of sugars and how that relates to excess weight gain and tooth decay in adults and children.

There is no doubt that Americans and people in the West are consuming too much sugar. For instance, most American adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugar, which is closed to 400 calories, a day. This is about 4 times of the recommended amount, meaning their average sugar intake should drop by at two-third to meet the new WHO’s suggested limit.

It is hoped that the WHO’s new guidelines would force the food manufacturers to rethink how they are using sugar in processed foods like bread, soups, pasta sauces and even salad dressings.

So far, there is no universally agreed consensus on how much sugar should be consumed. For instance, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends sugar intake should be limited to about 8 percent of the diet: men and women should not consume more than 150 (9 teaspoons) and 100 (6 teaspoons) calories respectively a day.

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