We hope everyone had a Hoppy Easter!
Let us guess, it was filled with family, friends, and… chocolate?!
Sweet treats are an absolute necessity during Easter, and there is nothing wrong with indulging every once in a while. That said, it’s important to be informed about the effects of sugar on your heart so that you are equipped to make informed, healthy food choices when you can.
What Is Sugar?
Despite the compound providing energy for our bodies, sugar actually has no nutritional value on it’s own. Foods (such as fruits and vegetables) can contain natural sugars, but sugar is also added to foods – which are typically processed – to enhance flavour and increase shelf-life.
Most people are likely familiar with sugar’s most popular forms (white sugar, brown sugar, etc), but sneakier versions that are often slipped into packaged foods include:
Sweet Tip: Check the ingredient list on your packaged foods. If sugar (in any of these forms) is at the top of the list, the product can be considered high in sugar.
What Are The Effects Of Sugar On Your Heart?
In fact, a study published in 2014 and conducted over the course of the 15 years, “found that people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar”.
The effects of sugar on your heart are still being explored, but more and more studies are showing that a high sugar intake can increase your risk of heart disease by:
- Overloading the liver, which can lead to fatty liver disease and diabetes
- Causing chronic inflammation
- Contributing to weight gain
- Spiking isulin levels
- Lowering the level of “good” cholesterol
How Much Sugar Is Okay?
The Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends that no more than 10% of total calories per day come from added sugars and ideally, it’s less than 5%. That means that for an average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, 10% is about 48 grams of added sugars. For context, a single can of pop contains approximately 85% of daily added sugar!
How Can I Reduce My Sugar Intake?
Stick To Water
Drinking your calories serves you zero nutritional value. Avoiding sugary drinks and sticking to water will not only keep you hydrated, but it will also keep your heart healthy!
You can spruce up your water with lemon or lime slices, or even add aromatics like mint to make it a little more interesting.
We wrote a blog on how water can improve your heart health – check it out!
Avoid Processed Foods
Like sugary drinks, processed foods rarely provide high nutritional value. In addition, highly processed foods are usually chalked full of bad fats, which also wreak havoc on your heart.
Instead, shop the outside of the grocery store for fresh, healthy whole foods. If you need to satisfy your snack cravings, try things like nuts, fresh fruits, and veggies with dip!
Try Cooking At Home
When you cook at home, you are able to control the amount of added sugars in your recipes. You’ll be shocked at how many DELICIOUS low or no sugar dishes there are to try (these vegan crepes will have you jumping for joy!)
Listen, nobody is perfect. As mentioned, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a sweet treat every now and then. As long as your main sugar intake is coming from natural sources and you are making conscious food decisions, your thumper will be ready for next Easter’s indulgences!