Before you add that sweetened plant-based milk to your coffee, you may want to put your hand on your chest and pledge to be kinder to your heart. Overindulging in sugar is one of the worst things you can do for your cardiovascular system. Numerous scientific studies have shown that eating too much sugar directly damages your heart tissue and it can lead to atherosclerosis, i.e. hardening of your arteries.
If the above isn’t enough to persuade you away from eating too much sugar, consider the advice given by the American Heart Association. They have been promoting the results a large scale 2014 study that clearly demonstrated that eating too much sugar can significantly reduce your lifespan, not to mention lower your quality of life!
Specifically, this study found that in those individuals who consumed 17-21 % of their daily calories on average from sugar added to food had a 38 % higher chance of dying from a cardiovascular disease like a heart attack than those individuals that consumed only eight percent of their daily calories on average from added sugar.
THAT’S A 38 % JUMP… and it gets worse…
Individuals who got more than 21 % of their calories on average from added sugar were TWICE as likely to die from a heart attack or another cardiovascular disease!
Remember too, sugar is highly caloric. One trip to Starbucks or Baskin Robbins can easily give you more than 21 % of your calories from sugar for that day. A small 12-oz can of Coke gives you 140 kcal from high fructose corn syrup, one of the worst forms of sugar you can consume. Two cans of Coke on a 2000-kcal diet gives you 14 % of your calories from sugar. Three cans of Coke bumps this up to 21 % of your calories from sugar. And…. we won’t even talk about “Big Gulps” or those huge sweetened ice teas that people have become so fond of!
The seminal study referred above involved looking at the detailed records of more than 40,000 American adults, over an eighteen-year span for some! It was a collaborative effort between scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
In other words, this is the best data available and a very solid analysis of that data! If you would like to read more about how the scientists conducted this study, and other interesting findings they came up with, here is a direct link to the full paper.
Based on this research and other research, the American Heart Association makes the following recommendations for daily sugar intake:
Eat no more sugar than six teaspoons (about 100 kcal) each day.
Eat no more sugar than nine teaspoons (about 150 kcal) each day.
Now, we’re going to show you one good way to avoid sugar and help your heart:
Put Your Hand over Your Heart and Recite This Daily Oath to Your Heart
If you want this oath to really make a difference, you’ve got to do it right. If you’re American, you’ll recognize a similarity to the pledge of allegiance you recited in school to the American flag every day. Stand up, put your hand over your heart, and recite this pledge:
“I Pledge Allegiance to My Heart, My Arteries, Veins, and Capillaries and to My Body for Which They Serve I Make Every Effort to Eat Less Sugar and Spread This Oath to All I Love”.
While this may seem like a silly exercise to some of you, and you may even feel a little awkward doing it at first, these types of daily affirmations can really work!
Get your significant other, your kids, your parents, your grandparents, your siblings, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins, and all your friends to do it with you too! Not only will you be helping your loved ones live a longer life, it’s always easier to stick to these commitments if you do them as part of a close-knit social group.
Please post this pledge to Facebook with a link back to my article. I want to help spread the word that sugar is extremely harmful to your heart. While most people seem to know sugar can make you gain weight, cause diabetes, and rot your teeth, not as many people seem to know that sugar (not fat!) can clog your blood vessels and bring on a heart attack!