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Health Beat: Sugar: Just say no

Published On: Aug 07 2014 02:54:29 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 07 2014 04:54:42 PM CDT

The average American consumes 156 pounds of sugar every year. Experts said that could be the one reason for expanding waistlines. Too much sugar could also cause cardiovascular disease and even depression.

CLEVELAND -

It's a staple in kitchens, restaurants, and certainly in bakeries, however, it turns out that for some, a love affair with sugar could end on a sour note.

"I had some health issues, and it ended up being sugar that was triggering these headaches I was having," said Laura Marin, author of The Green Market baking book.

Experts said added sugars can increase inflammation in blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. Some studies suggest high sugar intake can lead to depression. Sugar can change the structure of collagen in the skin, which can leave wrinkles.

"It's amazing how quickly you can see some of the damage from the added sugars. You can literally see changes within an hour on an ultrasound of how this negatively impacts your cells," said Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietician, adding that the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. "There’s a lot of hidden sugars that people might not be aware of."

Sugar is hiding in places like tomato sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce and salad dressing. While these products may not seem too sweet, they can be loaded with sugar.

Skip the soda because it probably has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Instead, try drinking sparkling water with a splash of juice. Eat whole foods that aren't processed. Try to sweeten foods naturally with spices like coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

If you cut out hidden sugar from your diet, then splurge on a treat, you won't derail your entire diet.

Federal guidelines offer limits for the amount of salt and fat that Americans take in, however, there is no similar guideline for sugar. The American Heart Association recommends women consume fewer than six teaspoons of added sugar each day and men consume fewer than nine.

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