Posts Tagged ‘American Heart Association’

Sugar: More Addictive than Drugs?

We talked recently about the dangers of sugar – an ingredient (among others) that is killing us! 

A friend of ours — Jeff O’Connell — just published a book, Sugar Nation: The Hidden Truth Behind America’s Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way to Beat It, that is starting to gain some serious attention about this very topic.  Interestingly, Jeff has type 2 diabetes — but at 6’6, very lean and active, he’s certainly not your "typical" type 2 diabetes patient. 

So in the book he talks to a ton of researchers, physicians and others looking deeper at some of the causes of the disease that’s growing by 7,000 people PER DAY. 

Well, Americans are certainly eating enough sugar to make it toxic.  While surely there are some controversial nutrition recommendations in the book, it’s important to look at some facts about sugar. 

sugar is toxicAdded sugars make up about 16% of total calories in the American Diet — SIXTEEN!  That means 16% of the American Diet is not just void of ANY nutrients whatsoever, but it’s filled with completely useless calories.


And ‘added sugars’ means sugars from any source — white sugar, brown sugar, organic sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soda, honey, organic cane sugar, etc.  The sugars mainly found in processed foods are added sugars and so are any sugars you personally add.  Basically, any sugar that’s not naturally found in foods like fruits, veggies or dairy products so don’t use these new "rules" as a way to say you have to stop eating fruits and veggies.  That’s taking smart guidelines and applying them to what you may want to hear.


Just to give you an idea — here are a few of the major culprits of added sugar in Americans’ diets.


  • Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks: 36% contribution to total added sugar intake
  • Cakes, cookies, pies: 13%
  • Fruit drinks and “-ades” (not 100% fruit juice): 10.5%

Sugar has earned a spot on the AHA’s black list — saying it’s basically a "negative nutrient" that needs to be limited for your heart’s sake (and, really, every other organ in your body too).

The AHA recommends that added sugar intake be limited to 100 calories (25 grams, or 6 teaspoons) per day for women and to 150 calories (about 37 grams, or 9 teaspoons) per day for men.  To be honest, even less would be even better…the less, the better. 

Keep in mind that now, the average American eats over 350 calories each day in sugar alone (about 22 teaspoons,or nearly 3-12 oz cans of soda)!  Talk about a way to make sure you gaining belly fat and ruining your health!

Added sugars have NO place in your body whatsoever.  NONE.  ZERO.  ZIP.  (NOTE: for certain athletes, sports drinks and post workout drinks CAN play a role, but that’s not the majority of the population).  Unfortunately the majority of the population are those who still drink too many of those things yet don’t move their bodies.

Here’s the deal.

Adding sugar to your diet is like pouring mud down your throat.  Gross, right?  Yeah, they have about the same amount of nutrients — actually, the mud probably has more!

The study I’m referring to was published in AHA’s Scientific Journal, Circulation … and they talk about the link between high sugar intake and insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes.  Of course we can also point to the increase in belly fat from eating too much sugar, which can lead to basically every other disease known to man.

Very simply, we are OVERFED YET UNDERNOURISHED!!!  And added sugars need to go.

In fact, the AHA has a very strong conclusion in their study: "There is sufficient evidence to link excessive sugar intake to the pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease."

Scary stuff.  That is, unless you’re not "in the know."

Tricks to limit added sugars

This is what we do to limit added sugars and make sure we don’t throw ouroverall "diet" in the toilet.

  • Eat whole foods with a max of 5 ingredients each (preferably just 1 ingredient) — fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, whole grains, & fish, as each are void of added sugars.
  • If it comes in a package, leave it on the shelf (think snacks, pastries, cookies, most breakfast cereals, etc)
  • Leave foods on the shelf if they have any of these as the first few ingredients: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, sugar (dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, syrup.

Kudos to the American Heart Association … most governing bodies haven’t stepped it up and made such a bold move.

If you liked the article above, please click the ‘Like’ button below for Facebook and leave a comment on the blog 


Fish Oil vs. Flax Oil: Which is Best?

Fat is incredible for you!

Yup, I said it — dietary fat is amazing for you. 

The key, here, is the TYPE of fat … with that statement above, it should be noted that not ALL fats are amazing for you.  In fact, some may ultimately kill you.  But let’s focus on those that may help reduce the risk of disease and really just live optimally.

Omega-3 Fats

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that omega-3′s are fantastic for you.  

In fact, they’re called essential fatty acids for a reason …

…this means the body doesn’t make them, so they instead omega 3 fats must come from the diet.

But this doesn’t mean there isn’t confusion surrounding omega-3′s.

We got this email the other day:

"Hey Chris and Kara — I know you’re busy, but I was hoping you could answer this quick question for me.  Should I use flax oil OR fish oil?  Do I need to supplement or can I get them through the diet?"  Mary from Seattle

First and foremost, where do you get omega-3 fats?

Cold water, fatty fish are the best — wild salmon and tuna are 2 of the more common fish that offer a nice does of healthy fat. 

And then there are many non meat based foods that provide omega-3′s too.

Flax seed and flax oil.  Nuts.  Hemp and chia seeds.  And even some leafy veggies.

But within that omega-3 umbrella, there are still differences between different sources.  You see, there are a few different omega-3 fats, which are abbreviated:


The first two, EPA and DHA, come directly from fish.  ALA comes from all the vegetarian sources listed above.  Now, while they’ve all got their own unique qualities and are all fantastic, most of the data looking at omega-3 fats focuses on the 2 that come from fish (EPA and DHA).

And while it was once thought that eating enough of the one omega 3, ALA, was sufficient since it converted to the others, recent data suggests that conversion is VERY minimal (around 0.1%).  

What does this mean in English? 

To get EPA and DHA, you should eat fish regularly — the American Heart Association suggests eating at least 2 servings (up to 12 oz) per week.  If you’re a vegetarian, that obviously wouldn’t work … and I would then turn to an algae source of DHA, which is available. 

So to answer the original question — flax oil vs. fish oil — it shouldn’t be an either or thing, but instead an "in addition" thing — flax oil and flax seed are both good, but in a different way. 

In addition, there is enough data, in our opinion, that suggests most would benefit from supplementing with a high quality fish oil as well — particularly those with a history of heart disease, lipid issues, etc. 

…to be honest, even Ella takes DHA regularly for her tiny developing brain.  At this rate, by the age of 2, she will likely be working for NASA and have balanced the budget for this country. 

We use and recommend Nordic Naturals.

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