These days health advocates seem to be finally coming around to the fact that sugar is seriously detrimental to our health—particularly our heart health. Of course, this is something I’ve been writing about for many years. But a new report published online by JAMA Internal Medicine explains partly why so many heart health professionals have been pointing the finger for so many years at dietary fat instead of sugar as the major culprit in heart disease.
The authors of this new study examined the sugar industry’s role in heart disease research back in the 1960s. Importantly, they found that the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) funded a highly touted literature review that was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 1967. This SRF-funded study focused on fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of heart disease and specifically downplayed sugar as a risk factor in order to detract attention away from previous research linking sugar to heart disease.
Since this 1967 sugar industry-funded study was a major review published in an influential journal, it had the clout to shift the scientific debate about the main risk factors for heart disease away from sugar and toward dietary fat.
Thankfully the tide is finally starting to turn, and more researchers are focusing on the critical role inflammation plays in the development of heart disease—with sugar being a major cause of arterial inflammation.
So, to cut down on dangerous inflammation that’s the real root cause of heart disease, you need to worry less about dietary fat and cholesterol and instead take direct aim at all the inflammation-inducing sugar in your diet. Here’s how.
6 Tips for Eating a Sugar-Free Diet
1. Read labels. Most of the sugar you eat is “hidden,” usually under the guise of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods. Do everything you can to avoid these sneaky sugar products in your heart health diet.
2. Steer clear of doughnuts, cookies, and pastries. These foods are filled with sugar and damaging hydrogenated oils, as well as processed, fiber-less flour. Who needs this jackpot of junk?
3. Beware of sodas. They are literally liquid candy. While I’m on the subject, watch out for sweet teas, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
4. Use natural sweeteners. If you need to sweeten any foods, add a little juice from oranges, grapes, pears, peaches, or other fruits. You can also use some shredded raw or dried apples, coconuts, raisins, or dates.
5. Eat several small meals. Start with breakfast, and include some protein at each sitting to keep you feeling satisfied. By eating little portions throughout the day, you will be less inclined to overload on sugary foods.
6. Limit your alcohol intake. This includes wine, beer, and liquor. Many people don’t realize that alcohol contains a large store of hidden sugar, so you don't want to drink too much alcohol in your heart health diet.
Now it's your turn: How do you stick to a sugar-free diet for better heart health?