Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cut Back on Sweets to Slash Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol can be tricky to manage, and there are many tips and tricks that are often quoted to help reduce your levels. But as with all things in nutrition and health, new information comes out on a near daily basis and reminds us that we never really know it all! In a surprising new study, researchers have found that sugar - the substance that is implicated in so many diseases and ailments - also appears to play a role in raising cholesterol levels.

Sugar can be hard to avoid for so many people because it tastes so good and is highly addictive. Not only that, sugar is often hidden in unexpected places, like in peanut butter and bread, and how can we avoid something if we don't know it's there? In fact, most North American adults consume upwards of 90g of sugar each day, or 21.4tsp!

In this study, one group of participants received 3tsp of sugar daily while another group received upwards of a whopping 46 tsp per day. The results on cholesterol levels were startling; as the amount of sugar in the participants' diets increased, their HDL levels, or good cholesterol, decreased, while their overall triglyceride levels increased. This is one of the first studies to demonstrate a direct correlation between sugar intakes and cholesterol levels.

Since refined or added sugars possess no nutritional value but plenty of empty calories, the wisest move you can make is to avoid your exposure to them. This doesn't mean you shouldn't eat sugar at all - we all deserve a treat from time to time - but there are plenty of treats out there that have reduced sugar levels or are naturally sugar free. The goal on the whole should be to limit your sugar intake from day to day for optimal health and really enjoy it when you need a little fix.