According to the study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine, those who got 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.
Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they're processed or prepared.
•ready-to-eat cereals and
•but not naturally occurring sugar, such as in fruits and fruit juices.
They have long been cited for contributing to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
But this is the first study to tie these together and show that too much added sugar could lead to heart disease and kill you, said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Heart Association's nutrition committee and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington.
According to the study, most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day.
The American Heart Association recommends:
•No more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for women.
•No more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.
"This study is another confirmatory piece in the growing body of science that supports the American Heart Association's recommendations," said American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and medical director of Penn's Heart and Vascular Center.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugars in the American diet. They should be limited to 36 ounces or 450 calories a week, Johnson said.
A can of regular soda packs about 35 grams of added sugars, equivalent to 8.75 teaspoons or 140 calories. Reducing or cutting out soda, fruit, sports and energy drinks as well as enhanced waters, sweetened teas and sugary coffee drinks can go a long way toward that goal, Johnson said.
The study says that federal guidelines and regulatory strategies are needed to help consumers control their sugar intake. "We should have added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label so consumers can tell how much added sugars are in the products they are buying," Johnson said.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine