A sugar-laden diet can be a killer. That's the conclusion of an international study from the Harvard School of Public Health. The authors attributed 180,000 deaths worldwide each year—25,000 in the United States—to consumption of sugary beverages, explains the July 2013 Harvard Women's Health Watch. Sodas and fruit drinks aren't our only sources of sugar. The average American eats between 22 and 30 teaspoons of added sugar each day, according to the American Heart Association.
"The harmful effects of sugar are primarily due to the weight gain from added sugar in the foods we eat and sugar-sweetened beverages," says Dr. Michelle Hauser, certified chef and nutrition educator and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Most of the deaths are related to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes."
How much sugar do we actually need? In reality, "you don't need any added sugar," says Dr. Hauser. According to American Heart Association guidelines, women should get no more than 100 calories a day (about 6 teaspoons) from added sugar.
It's relatively easy to control the amount of sugar spooned onto food or into beverages like coffee and iced tea. It's harder to know how much sugar is hidden in presweetened packaged and processed products. That's why it's so important to read food labels.
To cut back on sugar, don't try to eliminate all sugary foods at once. Instead, try switching to a healthy diet made up of more satisfying foods-whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy oils, and lean protein.
Read the full-length article: "How to break the sugar habit and help your health in the process"