Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States and is often perceived as an “older person’s disease.” But now according to a first-of-its-kind study reported in Circulation: Journal of American Heart Association even the Now Generation can’t have a ‘whatever’ attitude about heart health.
Research shows that teenagers who consume a lot of added sugars in soft drinks and foods may have poor cholesterol profiles — which may possibly lead to heart disease in adulthood. (No worries I’ve got a Healthy Soda Recipe below 🙂
“Added sugars” are any caloric sweeteners (e.g. sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, organic cane juice, etc.) added to foods or beverages by the manufacturer during processing or by the consumer.
The National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) of 2,157 teenagers (ages 12 to 18) found the average daily consumption of added sugars was 119 grams (28.3 tsp or 476 calories), accounting for 21.4 percent of their total energy. To put sugar content in perspective:
o 12 ounce can of fruit flavored drink or soda = 7-10 tsp of sugar
o brownie = 4 tsp sugar
o chicken nuggets = 3 tsp sugar
o plain slice of bread = 1-2 tsp sugar
So you can see how quickly it can add up. This is especially true since sweet things have lost their status as treats and are everyday foods.
Recently, the American Heart Association recommended a specific upper limit for added sugars intake, based on daily individual caloric needs the amount of energy the person expends, sex and age. For example, 1800 calories might be the appropriate amount for an average teenage girl ages 14-18, she would need no more than 100 calories from added sugars. An individual with a requirement of 2200 calories per day would drink or eat no more than 150 calories from added sugars.
Teens consuming the highest levels of added sugars had lower levels of high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL), the good cholesterol, and higher levels of triglycerides and low density lipoproteins (LDL), the bad cholesterol. Here are a few of the study highlights:
- Consuming high amounts of added sugars in soft drinks and foods in adolescence is associated with poor cholesterol profiles and poor diet quality, possibly leading to heart disease in adulthood.
- Teens who ate the highest levels of added sugars had lower good cholesterol levels and higher bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those with the lowest intake.
- Overweight or obese teens with the highest levels of sugars intake had increased signs of insulin resistance.
The good news for teens is that the chances of heart disease can be reduced when you take steps now to prevent and control factors that put people 25 and older at a greater risk. The research author Jean Welsh, MPH, PhD, R.N. suggests reading labels of the foods and drinks you consume and replacing sugary drinks with water since the largest contributor of added sugar was found to be from beverages.
Healthy diet and lifestyle are the main weapons you have to fight heart disease. The sooner you start the better and the easier. Adults have done a good job of making it seem harder than it really is. But the bottom line is the overall pattern of choices you make and your daily habits are what matter. So make them count!
HEALTHY SODA RECIPE
6 ounces sparkling water
4 ounces cran-apple juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, orange juice or pineapple juice
1 lime wedge
Serve cold and enjoy!!