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Nutrition & Fitness Newsletter

Sugar, Sugar!

Welcome to February, Heart Health Month!  Let's focus on the lesser known contributer to heart disease, instead of the usual suggestions of regular exercise, losing weight, reducing fat, saturated fat and sodium.  Although, those strategies are just as important too.  Before you dig into those Valentine's day candies know that sugar is a contributer to heart disease risk.  In excess it can lead to weight gain and may be the main cause of obesity in the U.S and other countries.  Moreover, it's linked to increased risks for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and inflammation -all risk factors for heart disease.  Let's take a look at a few ways to manage sugar in your diet and improve your health.

  • Added Sugar — There's a difference between what is naturally occurring sugars and added sugars in food.  Natural sugars are found in fruits, vegetables, milk and grains.  The added sugars can be found in drinks, condiments, desserts, baked goods, candy and packaged foods.  Good news, food manufacturers will be transitioning to food labels that include "Added Sugars".  Previously, only "Total Sugars" were required on the nutrition facts panel, thus we were unable to decipher what was derived from naturally occurring sugar and what was added.  The goal is to reduce or eliminate these added sugars in the diet and replace them with foods that have naturally occurring sugars.

  • Types of Sugars —How to recognize the added sugars?  Read the ingredients list on the food label.  You'll be surprised how many foods have these hidden added sugars.  Look for syrup, molasses, cane juice, fruit concentrate, these are considered added sugar, and ingredients ending in "ose", such as fructose and dextrose.  Some of these hidden sugars can be found in juice, crackers, breads, salad dressings and canned goods.  On the other hand, now that the nutrition facts panels are listing "added sugars", manufacturers may try to lower this number by using artificial sweeteners.  If you're avoiding artificial sweeteners always check the ingredients list for these.  Read further for how spot these artificial sweeteners and other sweeteners.

  • Recommended Amounts — Dietary Guidelines for Sugar recommend added sugar to be less than 10% of total calories.  That is equivalent to less than 50 grams or approximately 12 teaspoons for a 2000 calorie diet.  In comparison, the American Heart Association recommends less than 9 teaspoons of sugar for men and less than 6 teaspoons for women.  That may still sound like a lot, surprisingly sugar is often hidden in many foods and can add up quickly.  These recommendations do not include naturally occurring sugars.  Supporting the focus to reduce added sugar intake is evidence from studies that reveal higher risks of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.  Sugary foods can be difficult to give up due to our natural preference for sweet foods and how it influences our brain chemistry to want more.  Your best bet is to wean yourself off added sugars in foods and have more foods with naturally occurring sugars.

  • Replacements — There's plethora of low-calorie sweeteners, artificial sweeteners and non-caloric sweeteners to satisfy our desire for sweets.  Some of these are better for you than others.  For more information, I'll refer you to this comprehensive newsletter on sweeteners - SWEETENERS: Trick or Treat?   Additionally, here are a few tips for cutting back on sugar - reduce the amount in recipes or substitute with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas, try fresh, dried, baked or stewed fruits for dessert, make your own condiments to control the amount the sugar in dressings, ketchup and barbecue sauce, swap out sugar-sweetened beverages for plain or sparkling water flavored with mint, citrus or a splash of juice.  Sugar-sweetened beverages are typically the main source of added sugars, cutting back on these will greatly reduce your calories from sugar.

Here are few reasons to see a nutritionist/personal trainer/health coach: relieve tension and stress in the body, properly train or progress in an activity, improve your microbiome, assess nutrient intake, disease prevention through evidence-based diet, and exercise, maximize exercise performance, improve sleep quality, enhance mental clarity, optimize digestion and nutrient absorption, establish long-term healthy habits, meal planning for a whole foods diet and eat in a way to sustain the planet.  Please consider Sheri for nutrition counseling and/or fitness appointments to help you develop a healthier lifestyle for you and the planet. 


Best Diet of 2020
And the winner for best overall diet of 2020 is the Mediterranean diet!!  For the 3rd year in a row this diet is number one in the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings.  This focuses on a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Contact Sheri if you're interested in learning about the healthy and tasty Mediterranean diet for your lifestyle.

Sheri is a Certified Nutritionist with a master's degree in nutrition, with over 15 years of clinical counseling experience, an ACE-certified Personal Trainer with advanced certifications in medical exercise, senior fitness and health coaching.  All nutrition consultations include exercise guidance, dietary analysis and meal plans to meet your individual lifestyle, calorie and nutritional needs.

Free introductory 15-minute appointments are also available.

To schedule an appointment with Sheri Mar, email:  or call:  206.789.6440

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