People trying to avoid cholesterol-rich foods often replace them with carbohydrates like potatoes and pasta, or with foods that contain extra sugar. That excess sugar can be just as harmful to cardiovascular health.
Sugar that is not needed immediately for energy increases levels of glucose in your blood. Your body responds by releasing more insulin and storing the excess sugar as triglycerides, another type of unhealthy fat. A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers from Emory University found that excessive consumption of sugar tripled the risk of heart disease. Overconsumption of sugar is linked to diabetes, obesity, and low levels of LDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol").
Sugars occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products. The problem is the refined sugars that are added to many processed foods, including baked goods, canned goods, cereals, snacks, juices, and candy. The average American adult eats 21 teaspoons of added sugar every day, about 3 times the recommended amount.
These added sugars are often hidden in foods that are marketed as "healthy." It is up to you to protect yourself and your family by making wise food choices.
Eating natural, healthy foods is only one aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, managing stress and staying active all contribute to good heart health.
High-Sugar Diet Linked to Cholesterol, WebMD (www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20100420/high-sugar-diet-linked-lower-good-cholesterol)
How Much Sugar Do Your Kids Eat? SuperHealthyKids.com (www.superhealthykids.com/how-much-sugar-do-your-kids-eat)
Sweet Tooth Gone Bad: Why 22 Teaspoons Of Sugar Per Day Is Risky, by Alison Aubrey, NPR (www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/02/03/271130613/sweet-tooth-gone-bad-why-22-teaspoons-of-sugar-per-day-is-deadly)