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Staying Away From Sugar

April 18, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Staying Away From Sugar

Do you have a sweet tooth? New research shows eating too much sugar can not only cause you to gain weight, but it could also lead to heart disease and possibly cancer. Some doctors are now even calling too much sugar toxic.

Kristi Schroeder not only adds sugar to her cereal but she's a fan of sweets in general.

"I would rather give up anything else in my diet if I could still have sweet stuff," Schroeder said.

Schroeder says her habit has not caused her to gain weight, but it has not been so sweet on her cholesterol. At 51-years-old, her cholesterol is over 300. She does not think sugar is completely the culprit but has played a role.

"I don't notice it until I go to the doctor, and she says 'your cholesterol is over 300.' But then she puts me on medication. To me I'm on medication, so now I can still eat sugar. That's how much I crave it," Schroeder said.

Schroeder is not alone. The bitter truth is the average American eats around 30 teaspoons of sugar every day.

"Now, this is really more what's recommended, which is about six to eight teaspoons," Avera Heart Hospital Dietitian Joanne Shearer said.

Shearer agrees with new research showing eating too much sugar can lead to potentially deadly diseases, like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Some researchers even say it's toxic.

"Particularly for cardiovascular disease and heart disease we're recognizing that all that sugar is contributing to blood fats. It increases fats in your blood called triglycerides and also lowers your good, healthy cholesterol. That combination really is deadly when it comes to heart disease," Shearer said.

Along with sugar, you should also avoid refined processed carbohydrates. That includes things like Pop Tarts, white bread, and many cold cereals.

"The carbohydrates in the white bread breaks down into glucose-sugar-just as quickly here as the table sugar," Shearer said.

But with sugar being the number one food additive in Americans' diets, Schroeder doesn't sugar coat it. She knows she won't be able to completely cut out the sweets.

"It stuck a little bug in my ear. I'm a little bit conscious of it now saying, 'Maybe I should just back off.' I know I can do it, but it's been one of the harder things to do," Schroeder said.

Shearer says she doesn't think sweets are addictive at the level of alcohol or drugs, but they are habit forming. She recommends eating fruit or a small piece of dark chocolate if you're craving sweets.

Sugar is also a main ingredient in many foods, so if you want to limit your sugar intake, Shearer says you should read labels.

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