Britons need to ‘cut down’ on ‘free’ sugars to prevent heart disease – expert advises how

Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk in 2021

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Coronary heart disease is often caused by fatty deposits building up on the walls of arteries around the organ. Therefore, a diet full of fatty foods can put you at greater risk. Sugar can also cause fatty deposits as it raises the production of “bad” cholesterol, and lowers “good cholesterol” in the blood.

Helen Flaherty, head of health promotion and education at Heart Research UK, explained: “A diet that contains too many products that are high in energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt can put you at an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.

“There is a link between obesity and heart disease and it is well known that rates of child and adult obesity are high in the UK.”

She specifically warned about the dangers of “free sugars”.

“Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain,” she said.

“‘Free’ sugars are sugars that are added to foods as a flavour enhancement or to act as a preservative (increasing shelf-life of products).

“This is the type of sugars that adults and children in the UK need to cut down on.

“The government recommends that free sugars should not make up more than five percent of the energy you get from food and drink each day.”

Heart Research UK shared some tips on how to avoid free sugars.

It says: “Choose products that are labelled ‘no added sugar’ or ‘no sugars’.

“Reduce consumption of sweet treats such as cakes, biscuits, and sweets. Swap out canned fruit in syrup for fresh fruit.

“Switch sugary breakfast cereals for unsweetened cereal and add fresh fruit for sweetness.

“Swap sugary drinks for water, sugar-free or diet alternatives. Limit fruit juices and smoothies to 150ml a day.

“Cut down on sugar in hot drinks or try adding sweetener instead.”

It also advises checking packets for the following ingredients, which suggest they could contain free sugars:

  • Glucose
  • Xylose
  • Treacle
  • Honey
  • Dextrose
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar (palm, raw, beet, brown)
  • Cane juice
  • Fructose.

Nutritional labels using the green, amber and red system are also a good way to avoid sugar.

The main symptoms of coronary heart disease are:

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain throughout the body
  • Feeling faint
  • Feeling sick (nausea).

Other lifestyle changes to reduce your risk include exercising more and giving up smoking.

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