Added sugar = declining health

      By: Amy

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The Charleston branch of the American Heart Association (AHA) is warning about consuming too much added sugar.

      Speaking on Lowcountry Live, on behalf of the AHA, MUSC dietitian Amy Mendez noted that consumers are often surprised that sugar damages more than waistlines.

      "We know that added sugar adds calories," said Mendez. "Most people don't know that added sugars affect your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease."

      According to the AHA, Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. The organization recommends limiting this for better cardiovascular health. Men should consumer fewer than nine teaspoons and women should consumer no more than six teaspoons each day.

      Mendez clarified that{}concern is not over naturally occurring sugars in items such as fruits, milk and bread, but for added sugars. For instance, soda contains large amounts of added sugar, especially orange and grape varieties. Sports drinks pose a similar scenario. According to Mendez, such drinks are meant especially for sports purposes as they contain sugar beyond what is needed for a sedentary person.

      "Remember, it's not just one serving per container," said Mendez.

      She also warned against believing that products labeled "natural" means that added sugar is not present. For instance, fresh brewed green tea is healthy, but many small, bottled versions contain 11 teaspoons of added sugar.

      She advised looking for "plain" items on grocery shelves. A small container of Greek yogurt contains six grams of sugar, while a flavored yogurt could contain 30 grams.{}