Health professionals, particularly nutrition researchers, have long been aware of the need for prudence when it comes to consuming sugar-laden foods and beverages. While a healthy diet can include occasional treats, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the consequences of sugar, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages, may extend beyond the poor nutrient density.
A recent noteworthy study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that participants consuming the highest level of calories from added sugars had three times the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those consuming the lowest levels of added sugar, independent of other related risk factors such as total calorie consumption, obesity and smoking.1 Further, participants consuming more than 10% but less than 25% of calories from added sugar (the Institute of Medicine recommendation), had a 30% higher risk of cardiovascular mortality. While refined carbohydrates including processed and prepared foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, candy, ready-to-eat cereals and yeast breads have taken much of the blame for what has been called the “epidemic” of overweight and obesity in the US, this new evidence suggests that high intakes of added sugar also impact cardiovascular disease, currently the number one cause of death in our country.
Transition Over the Years
Consumption of added sugars has risen over the past 30 years, at the same time that public health agencies have been recommending lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol to lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and related outcomes. However, the comprehensive body of literature over the past several decades has shown that adults can enjoy cholesterol-containing foods like eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease or stroke.
While the research is still evolving on the health consequences of eating refined carbohydrates and added sugars, emerging studies indicate that protein as an alternative energy source at breakfast, especially when paired with nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy and whole grains, provides a balanced start to the day. Help clients start their day with a healthy, high-quality protein, low-sugar recipe such as this simple and delicious Microwave Egg & Veggie Breakfast Bowl.
1) Yang Q et al. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. (JAMA Intern Med; e-pub Feb 3, 2014.) Accessed Feb 5, 2014. https://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1819573.