Americans have become more conscious about the evils of eating sugary foods: We’ve reduced our sugar intake from nearly 17 percent of our total calories about a decade ago to fewer than 15 percent of our calories in the latest government nutrition surveys. It turns out that was a wise move. A study published online last Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine examined nutrition surveys from nearly 12,000 Americans and found that those who reported consuming the greatest percentage of calories from added sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease over a 14-year period compared with people who consumed the least.
While the researchers couldn’t prove that eating excess sugar led to more heart disease deaths, they controlled for other factors that may have contributed, such as obesity, poor overall diet, and lack of exercise.
Those in the highest intake group ate an average of 25 percent of their calories each day from added sugars — about 500 calories or 125 grams, according to study co-author Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. He recommends looking at not just the food label but also the ingredients list and reducing your intake of foods that contain added sugar in all its forms, including evaporated cane juice, honey, corn syrup, and fruit juice concentrates.