More studies are showing that sugar raises high blood pressure and escalates the risk of heart disease. A recently published study found that cutting sugar rapidly reduces the risk for heart disease. The average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, which is nearly 450 calories. Cutting down on added sugar can improve cardiovascular health.

Cutting Sugar Rapidly Reduces the Risk for Heart Disease

For the study, published in Atherosclerosis, 37 obese children ranging in ages from 9 to 18 who were also at high risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Researchers gave each child food and drinks with equal calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates as what they were accustomed to eating.

However, the one change that occurred was the levels of added sugar in each meal. Instead of having sweets or sodas, the researchers gave the children pizza or bagels. The substitution dropped their sugar intake from 28% to 10% and fructose decreased from 12% to 4% of total calories.

The researchers found that cutting sugar rapidly reduces the risk for heart disease. In only nine days, the children dropped their triglycerides by 33%, had a reduction of proteins called apoC-III that correlate with triglyceride levels by 49% and lowered their amounts of LDL cholesterol by a significant amount.

Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol increase the risk for heart disease significantly. Both clog arteries and blood vessels, slowing down blood flow and leading to serious medical issues.

The Impact

This study is significant because the only aspect of the children’s’ diet the researchers changed was the amount of added sugar they consumed. Carbohydrates, fats, and protein did not affect their level of risk for heart disease like sugar did.

Children are still developing and need help from their parents to learn how to make correct dietary choices to reduce their health risks as they age. Adults that are at risk for heart disease can also change their diet will simple substitutions.

Dr. Robert Lustig, co-author of the study and professor of pediatrics at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California, San Francisco, explained the differences in caloric source.

“Sugar calories are not like other carbohydrate calories,” said Dr. Lustig. “Without changing total carbohydrate, or fat, or protein, we were able to accomplish this enormous improvement in their cardiovascular risk factors.”

Improving Sugar Levels

If you want a heart-healthy lifestyle, cutting sugar from your diet is essential – especially if you have prediabetes or diabetes.

While the task may seem impossible, it’s actually much easier to cut down on sugar than you may believe.

Start by getting rid of any table sugar around (white or brown), honey, syrup, and molasses. One way to do so is to cut back gradually: cut the amount you use by half and gradually use less and less.

If you’re feeling thirsty, drink some water instead of soda. If you need something with flavor, there are plenty of diet and health beverages with little to no sugar added; you can also add some fruit to your water.

When buying fruit at the store, avoid those canned in syrup. Instead, opt for fresh, frozen, or dried fruit.

Moreover, while you’re buying items at the store make sure to compare food labels and get the product that has the lowest amount of added sugars.

If you’re really craving some cookies, brownies and other sweets, make them yourself and cut the sugar necessary by about 1/3 to 1/2 – you might not even be able to tell the difference.

You can also replace sugar with natural extracts to add some flavor. Use almond, vanilla, lemon, or orange extracts for that sweet, natural taste.

In addition, you can enhance foods with spices like allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg instead of sugar.

The best way to cut down on sugar is to replace it with something that will give you the flavor you want without the downsides of sugar.