If you're trying to improve your cholesterol levels, it is a good idea to cut down on added sugar in your diet. Here's why.
People who eat foods that are high in sugars are more likely to have low levels of the "good" heart protective HDL cholesterol and high levels of the "bad" triglycerides. Both of these increase your risk factors for heart disease.
Researchers at Emory University looked at the correlation between consuming large amounts of sugars and its effect on cholesterol levels.
So where is all that sugar hiding?
Sugar is added to prepared foods such as breads, crackers, cereals, cakes, cookies, and in beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, sweetened teas, coffee drinks and juices. Sugars are often listed in the ingredient list as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup.
Researchers found that as we consume a diet higher in sugars, our cholesterol levels progressively worsen. HDL cholesterol falls and triglycerides rise -- both patterns that are linked with increased risk of heart disease.
Consumption of added sugars has increased substantially in recent decades; in the late 1970s, added sugars supplied roughly 11 percent of calories consumed by adults, compared to 16 percent seen in the current study.
This could also explain our expanding waistlines.
Kimberly Ferguson is a physician's assistant at Family Medical Center, 1120 W. Rose St.