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The Truth about Sugar

When someone describes a meal as “a heart attack on a plate,” what do you imagine? Steak and eggs with a side of fries, perhaps? You wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but the more current picture might be a plate of donuts partnered with a 16-ounce regular soda.

Sugar. It’s the latest edible to catch the eye of researchers and health reporters. Some say it poses a greater risk in terms of high blood pressure than salt and claim it can cause death by heart attack. Those are pretty serious accusations, so we did some investigative reporting ourselves to discover the truth about sugar and whether it is the enemy when it comes to a healthy eating plan. Here’s what we learned.

Sugar doesn’t cause high blood pressure or heart disease, but obesity does.

Some studies indicate that diets with lots of sugar lower levels of good HDL cholesterol. But these studies show an association, not cause and effect. What we do know is that obesity can cause cardiovascular disease. Sugar isn’t bad, but too much sugar can be. Excess empty calories are the problem, causing obesity, which raises blood pressure and leads to diabetes and heart disease.

Sugar does not put more fat on your figure than other foods.

Strictly speaking, a calorie is a calorie when it comes to weight gain. All foods contribute calories to the diet and if you eat excess calories no matter what the source, you will gain weight.

With the facts now in front of you, what should your dietary sugar strategy be?

Though sugar in of itself is not the devil, that doesn’t give you license to pack your daily menu with pancakes and pasta. (Keep in mind that all carbohydrates are converted to simple sugars during digestion). You’ve heard the expression “empty calories;” High-sugar foods have little to no powerhouse nutrients, and when you are counting calories as part of a weight loss eating plan, you want to make sure those calories really count.

Eat whole foods.

Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and whole-grain products as part of a healthy eating plan provides a wealth of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to keep you healthy.

Just choose water.

Regular soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks are the number one source of added sugars in our diets, and it’s easy to swallow a lot of empty calories in a beverage. It goes down fast and doesn’t create satiety the way foods do. A 16-ounce regular orange soda has 238 calories; you’d have to eat 3 1/2 3-inch navel oranges to get the same. Soda and other sugary drinks have no place in a weight loss diet for women.

Enjoy sweet treats only on special occasions.

No, that donut, cookie, or candy bar isn’t going to kill you, but eating too many of them in conjunction with an unbalanced diet could lead to more serious health problems.

It’s important to balance the occasional sugary treat with a mostly healthy eating plan. Your Curves coach can help you create a personalized weight loss diet and keep you motivated, which combined with staying active can help you achieve your weight loss and fitness relationship goals.