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Could a sugary diet be deadly? 'Sugar Smart Diet' helps you kick the sweet stuff

'The Sugar Smart Diet' is written by 'Prevention' editorial director Anne Alexander.
Rodale Books

According to a study published Monday in “JAMA Internal Medicine,” sugar is doing more than rotting our teeth and widening our hips. It may also play a big part in increasing your risk of heart disease.

The study, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that for a person who eats a 2,000-calories daily diet, just two cans of regular soda can substantially increase the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease, even in people who are not overweight.

So you might want to rethink that mountain of sugar in your morning coffee. If cutting the white stuff seems like a miserable, difficult task, “Prevention” magazine editorial director Anne Alexander has a solution in her new book “The Sugar Smart Diet” (Rodale Books, $26.99).

The book, subtitled “Stop Cravings and Lose Weight While Still Enjoying the Sweets You Love,” offers a 32-day plan to shrink your “sugar belly,” quash food cravings and lose weight, along with cutting your risk of diabetes and heart disease, balance your cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve your mood.

All that from sugar, huh?

The problem is, hidden sugar is everywhere – we spotted added sugar in a pouch of tuna the other day, for cryin’ out loud. The average American consumes up to 130 pounds of added sugar per year – eaten as an ingredient in food (like that tuna) rather than naturally occurring, like in fruits and vegetables.

The 32-day plan is portioned out in five phases: Sugar Step-Down, Tough-Love Turnaround, Fruit Feast, Spoonful of (Natural) Sugar, and Hello, Sugar -- gradually replacing your sugar habit with less sweetened foods and naturally sweet ones.

There are 50 recipes in the book as well, which use the sweetness found in fruits, nuts, spices and yes, even a little sugar. Banana Cream Pie Overnight Oats, Sugar Smart BBQ Sauce, Chocolate-Cherry Smoothie, and Easy Cinnamon-Apple Cobbler are among the sweeter recipes.

The book even includes a section on exercise to help speed your weight loss and lower your blood sugar levels. It’s designed by Michelle Stanton and includes yoga, strength training and easy cardio.