For decades, doctors had one main message for patients with high cholesterol: Stay away from saturated fat.
Meat, dairy, and eggs, they told us, were the worst things to eat if you want to avoid a heart attack.
This advice was not based on any solid evidence. But it seemed to make sense. If you ate foods high in cholesterol, wouldn’t that cholesterol end up in your arteries?
The answer turns out to be no.
A landmark review published in 2014 looked at 76 studies with 643,226 subjects. It found no link between saturated fat and heart disease.
But heart disease remains America’s number one killer. If cholesterol in food isn’t causing it, what is? A new study provides the answer.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Scientists followed more than 5,900 people for 12 years. They analyzed the subjects’ health data and tracked their diets.
The researchers discovered that one dietary factor was far more powerfully linked to heart disease than all others. And it has nothing to do with high-cholesterol foods.
- 98% higher chance of having low HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
People who drank at least one sugary soda a day dramatically increased their odds for two crucial heart risk factors. They had a:
- 53% greater chance of developing high triglycerides.
What’s more, their HDL and triglyceride readings got worse over time.
Dr. Nicola McKeown was one of the study authors. She said the findings show that sugary soda is one of the worst things you can put into your body. “We are better off quenching our thirst with water,” she said.
5 Foods Surprisingly High in Sugar
Cutting sugar is the best thing you can do for your heart.
But avoiding sugary foods is harder than it sounds… Some foods you wouldn’t suspect have very high sugar content:
- Low-fat yogurt: A single cup of low-fat yogurt can contain up to 47 grams of sugar. That’s 12 teaspoons. Choose unsweetened, full-fat yogurt instead.
- Barbecue sauce: Just two tablespoons can have 14 grams of sugar. Up to 40% of the weight of barbecue sauce may be pure sugar.
- Ketchup: It’s usually loaded with sugar. A single tablespoon contains about one teaspoon of sugar.
- Sports drinks: Since they’re marketed for athletes, we figure sports drinks are healthy. But a 20-ounce bottle often contains 32 grams of sugar. That’s about eight teaspoons.
- Granola: Granola is marketed as a health food. But it is usually packed with calories, sugar, and other carbs. One four-ounce granola bar can have 400 calories and more than 6 teaspoons of sugar.
Processed sugar is the worst form of carbohydrates. But other studies show that reducing your overall carb intake is also important. Simple carbs like white bread turn to sugar in your system.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed 82,802 women for 20 years. It found that women who ate low-carb diets cut their chances of heart disease by nearly a third.
A good rule of thumb is to limit your daily carbs to your ideal body weight. So if your healthy weight is 160 pounds, eat no more than 160 grams of carbs a day. You’ll be surprised how easy this is once you eliminate added sugars.
But there’s one pitfall you need to avoid…
When eliminating sugar, many people compensate by eating fruit. This can sabotage your efforts.
Some fruits cause the same kind of blood sugar spikes that sugary foods do. That’s why it’s important to choose fruit that has a low glycemic index (GI).
The GI number tells you how much a food will affect your blood sugar level, and therefore your insulin sensitivity. The lower the number, the less a food will raise your blood sugar.
Two ounces of raisins have a GI of 64. That’s even higher than a 12-ounce Coca-Cola (61). You also should avoid other dried fruits such as dates (102) and figs (61).
Canned fruits and fruit juices are bad options, too. Canned fruit usually has high amounts of added sugar. Canned peaches, for example, have a GI of 64.
Juices may have added sugar or be naturally high in sugar. Either way, they have a high GI. Unsweetened orange juice, for example, has a GI of 53.
Fresh fruits that have a relatively low GIs include sweet cherries (22), grapefruit (25), peaches (28), and apples (28).
The bottom line?
Minimize the sugar and refined starches in your diet…and stick to low-glycemic fresh fruits. Your heart—and your overall health—will thank you.
Editor’s Note: Research shows the standard heart disease treatments—stents and statin drugs—don’t prevent heart attacks. Discover what does. Get the Heart Smart Protocol. It’s a simple, science-backed plan that prevents and treats America’s number-one killer naturally, without drugs or procedures. You’ll find it in our monthly journal, Independent Healing. Subscribe HERE.