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AHA finally figures out sugar is bad


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The American Heart Association recently published a statement advising people to reduce their consumption of added sugars. According to the AHA,

"A new American Heart Association scientific statement provides specific guidance on limiting the consumption of added sugars and provides information about the relationship between excess sugar intake and metabolic abnormalities, adverse health conditions and shortfalls in essential nutrients. The statement, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, for the first time, provides the association’s recommendations on specific levels and limits on the consumption of added sugars...

The statement says that most women should consume no more than 100 calories (about 25 grams) of added sugars per day. Most men should consume no more than 150 calories (about 37.5 grams) each day. That’s about six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and nine for men." (more)

The low carb community let out a large collective "Duh!" as this news hit the press. For years they had been eliminating not just added sugar, but as much sugar as possible from their diets with excellent results.

Despite this baby step toward admitting sugar might not be such a good thing, the AHA statement also contains some serious flaws.

• While pointing out excess sugar is a problem, they also stated "solid fats" should be eaten sparingly. What they mean by this is that you should avoid saturated fats. Natural saturated fats are what humans evolved to eat. Not only are they not harmful, it looks more and more like they are beneficial.

• They make no mention of carbohydrates, which is what sugar really is. It is possible to avoid "added sugar" and still be consuming a high sugar diet. Flour, rice, potatoes, corn, etc... are all rapidly converted to sugar in the blood stream. With each 50g of carbohydrates equaling 1/4 cup of sugar, even without added sugars, many easily consume the equivalent of 2 cups or more of sugar per day.

• They focus on the rather meaningless calorie count of the sugar and not the effect of sugar on blood glucose and insulin levels.

• They promote the consumption of low-fat dairy. When you pull the fat out of dairy, what you mainly have left are carbohydrates....which is just sugar.

• They also promoted the consumption of more fruit. A high-fruit diet has its own special problems. While it does not raise insulin levels, it does rapidly convert to triglycerides and is a primary cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The AHAs hint of an admission that sugar in the diet may be a problem is a good sign. However, the current recommendations should be taken with a very large grain of salt...or, in this case, sugar.


  • Steve Parker, M.D. 5 years ago

    Thanks for reporting this.

    Your last paragraph implies that fruit is an important cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The link in that paragraph goes to a study focusing on sweetened beverages, not fruit.

    Fruit is an important source of healthy phytonutrients and fiber. Fruit can fit into a low-carb diet, in reasonable amounts.

    I support people who want to go low-carb. I've been doing it myself for the last four months.