- In a new meta-review, researchers found an association between sugar consumption and 45 health outcomes, which included heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, depression, certain cancers and death.
- Experts recommend reducing added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons per day.
- Healthy, low-sugar alternatives include sugar-free sweeteners like stevia, fresh or frozen fruit, and lower or zero-sugar yogurts.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to numerous chronic health problems according to a new study.
A meta-review published by
For the review, researchers analyzed 67 observational studies and six randomized controlled trials detailing 83 health outcomes in adults and children. They found a link between sugar consumption and 45 health outcomes, which included heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, depression, certain cancers, and death.
The researchers found that sugar-sweetened beverages like soda are linked to a higher risk for certain health conditions such as gout and coronary heart disease. They recommend no more than one sugar-sweetened beverage a week.
They found evidence of significant harmful associations between eating high amounts of added sugar and metabolic/endocrine disorders including diabetes, gout, and obesity.
They also found that consuming sugar was linked to an increased risk of cardiac issues including blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, and even certain cancers such as breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
They also saw a link between sugar consumption and increased risk of chronic conditions including asthma and depression.
“Excessive sugar intake puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, tooth decay, and weight gain to name just a few,” Jamie Nadeau, a registered dietitian nutritionist, told Healthline. “It’s no secret that added sugar isn’t great for our bodies. We have solid research that consistently shows negative outcomes with excessive sugar intake.”
Also, excessive sugar intake often means that high-sugar foods are replacing healthful foods, so you may be missing out on important nutrients, Nadeau added.
“The American Heart Association is a bit stricter and recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day for men and no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women,” said Nadeau. “I recommend aiming for the lower end of the added sugar recommendations, but don’t stress if it’s not perfect every single day.”
Because added sugar is so heavily linked to negative health outcomes, it’s smart to be mindful of how much you’re eating. But, remember that maintaining a good relationship with food is important too, Nadeau explained. It’s normal to enjoy foods with added sugar in moderation.
For some people who try to eliminate added sugar completely, an overly strict diet can mean they are more likely to stop the diet and could end up overeating or bingeing on sugary foods.
Practice mindfulness and moderation over elimination, Nadeau added.
“In practical terms, I recommend my patients indulge in small amounts of sugar when it’s worth it,” said Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND, a registered dietitian and doctor in clinical nutrition. “I encourage them to enjoy a small ice cream cone when they are out with their kids in an ice cream parlor or a small piece of cake at a birthday party.”
For people who want something sweet without health consequences, there are many different options available.
Nadeau recommends the following lower-sugar alternatives:
2. If you prefer sugar in your coffee, for example, be mindful of how much you’re adding versus blindly eyeballing it.
3. Opt for lower-sugar or zero-sugar yogurts instead of higher-sugar yogurts.
4. Try fresh or frozen fruits to sweeten up a snack or dish.
5. Opt for dark chocolate which is often lower in sugar.
6. Above all, make sure to always take a peek at the label. Foods are sometimes lower or high in added sugar than you may think.
“Use foods as a base to make sweets,” said Escobar. “For example, blend Greek yogurt and fruit with a small amount of sugar and make frozen popsicles. Or eat berries with a small piece of dark chocolate as a snack.”
Also, if you want to indulge in the real thing, choose a small container. For example, buy individual cups of ice cream instead of a gallon, which can help you limit how much you eat at one time, Escobar explained.
According to a new meta-review, there is an association between sugar consumption and 45 health outcomes, which included heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, depression, certain cancers, and death.
Health experts suggest lowering added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons per day.
Low-sugar alternatives include sugar-free sweeteners like stevia, fresh or frozen fruit, and lower or zero-sugar yogurts. Also, being mindful of portion control is important.