Heart disease risks increased by added sugar

LOS ANGELES As a diabetic, 46-year-old John Garavito keeps a close eye on his heart health. Now his primary doctor, John Liu, has new information that could save his life.

"The take home lesson in this particular study is to try to avoid foods that have added sugar," said Dr. Liu.

New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds people who consume a lot of added sugar and caloric sweeteners may have higher levels of fat in their blood.

"They ended up having decreased levels of good cholesterol or HDL. This is very significant because HDL is the protective cholesterol that prevents cardiovascular events in general.

Researchers looked at the diet and blood fat levels of more than 6,000 men and women. Many women who consumed a lot of sugar additives also had increases in their bad cholesterol.

"Even adding honey for example is considered an added sugar," said Dr. Liu.

Researchers say back in the 70s Americans got 11 percent of their calories from added sugar. Today that amount is up to 16 percent.

"I suspect that a lot of these sugars are added to entice consumers to go out and continue purchasing these items," said Dr. Liu.

"Living in this world there's too much temptation that's out there," said Garavito.

Dr. Liu advises all his patients not to add any extra sugar to their foods, and to keep track of all the sugar by reading nutritional labels.

"Avoid added sugars if possible. See your doctor regularly, and get your cholesterol checked," said Dr. Liu.

Dr. Liu says the study only looked at added sugars, not natural sugars found in fruit and fruit juices.

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