How Much? The average American consumes 22.2 teaspoons of sugar a day. That’s about 60 pounds a year!
Beyond diabetes – A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found a link between the amount of sugar consumed and the levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol. It looked at data gathered over a seven-year period, and found that adults who consumed calories from added sugar (excluding whole foods like fruit) – about 21.4 teaspoons of added sugar a day – had higher LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lower HDL (good) cholesterol) levels. Triglycerides, or blood fats, also increased, and this creates plaque formation.1
Safe Level? American Heart Association says to limit sugar to 5 teaspoons (about 100 calories) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (about 150 calories) per day for men. One teaspoon is approximately one gram, so do some simple math when you’re reading that food label. Divide the total grams of sugar by 5 to calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar it contains. Just one can of soda sweetened with high fructose corn syrup contains a whopping 12 teaspoons of sugar!
Heart Healthy? Aren’t monounsaturated oils such as olive oil and canola oil supposed to be heart-healthy? It might surprise you that olive oil contains between 14 and 17 percent saturated fat-the kind that clogs your arteries!
The Mediterranean Diet – What about the Mediterranean Diet, which includes olive oil? After four years, although people on the Mediterranean diet improved overall compared to the standard Western diet, one in four still experienced a new cardiovascular event.1
Inflammation Factor – In fact, all oils, even olive oil, create inflammation. And that results in injured and clogged arteries, which reduces the arteries’ ability to release nitrous oxide, your body’s built-in natural heart medicine.
The Antidote: Beans and Greens
- Eat all the fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans) that you want. Think beans and greens! Small amounts of nuts – less than a handful – are allowed.
- Eat whole starches: potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes
- NO dairy – including milk, cheese, yogurt or butter
- No beef, chicken or pork. Fish as a rare “treat” – no more than twice a month
- No added oils
Success Story – Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, has been “treating” heart disease patients with plants since 1986. The success rate is impressive – including former president Bill Clinton: 82% of those who adopted a plant-based diet had no further heart episodes. And a bonus byproduct – they lose weight!
1 Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D, Penguin Group, 2007