Harvard Heart Letter

A sugary diet may spell trouble for your heart

Don't let a sweet tooth derail your heart health. Avoid excess sugar from sodas and other sources.

Excess fat and salt are well-known dietary villains, especially when it comes to heart health. But mounting evidence suggests that excess sugar should join the list. Earlier this year, a major study found that a sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease—even if you aren't overweight.

"Currently, our dietary guidelines include recommendations for fat and salt but not for sugar," says Dr. Teresa Fung, adjunct professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. But that may soon change. The federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is considering issuing a new limit for added sugar in its 2015 recommendations, says Dr. Fung. She supports the American Heart Association's recommendation that women consume less than 100 calories of added sugar per day (the equivalent of about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons) and men consume less than 150 per day (about 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons). "Added sugar" means not just the sugar you spoon into beverages and onto food, but also the sugar that's added to many processed foods. It doesn't include the sugars found naturally in foods, such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk.

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