You want to eat “heart-smart”, right? A rainbow of colors from fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish and lean meats, a morsel of dark chocolate every now and then…Every bite counts.
But what about the stuff you’re sipping? Are the beverages you consume each day adding up to increased risk for heart attack?
A new study found men who frequently drink sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages may be at greater risk for heart attack than those who don’t. This finding, added to earlier evidence linking sugary foods, especially sodas, with increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, provides one more reason to take note of how much sugar you may be drinking each day.
How much is too much? The men in the study who were found to be at the greatest risk for heart attack were drinking an average of 6.5 sugar-sweetened beverages per week. Their risk for heart attack was 20 percent higher than those in the study who drank the least amount of sugary beverages.
Recommendations from the American Heart Association suggest men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day, and women no more than 6 teaspoons. One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar. Most fruit juices are loaded with sugar, too.
Here are some simple ways to reduce your sugar intake while quenching your thirst:
- Make it a rule in your house – for you and your kids – to drink water with meals.
- Limit regular soda to no more than 3 cans (36 ounces) per week.
- Switch from regular soda or fruit juices to no-calorie, diet beverages.
- Dilute fruit juices with water or seltzer, one part water or seltzer to one part juice.
- Use these recipes to make your own fruit water.
- Avoid adding sugar to your coffee and other beverages, or switch to non-nutritive sweeteners, such as Nutrasweet, Splenda or Truvia.
- Keep only sugar-free drinks on hand. Not having your favorite sugar-containing drinks readily available may encourage you to drink more water and consume fewer calories and less sugar.
SecondsCount also features more tips on heart-healthy eating (and drinking) as well as strategies for analyzing what you’re eating. With this information, you’ll be better armed to create a personalized heart-smart nutrition plan.
Fruit water is a fun way to get some flavors into water without sugar.
It is also refreshing, looks pretty and is quick to make.
- Cut up some fruits you like and have on hand. Example, strawberries, cucumber, watermelon, peaches, lemons, limes or oranges.
- Finely chop fresh herbs, such as rosemary, basil, mint or lemon balm.
- Add the chopped fruit and herbs to a pitcher of water.
- Refrigerate until cold and enjoy.
Note: You can re-fill the pitcher with water a few times, but discard the fruit and start over after three days, or earlier if necessary.
Popular Fruit Water Combinations
Cucumber Strawberry Water: Combine half of a cucumber and as many strawberries as you like in a big pitcher of water. Refrigerate & enjoy!
Lime Mint Cucumber Water: Combine half of a cucumber, a sprig of chopped fresh mint, and the juice of a few lime wedges into a big pitcher of water. Refrigerate and enjoy!
Try other combinations of fruit that you enjoy.
Print a copy of this recipe here. (PDF format) Then, pass it along!