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Cut Down on Sweets to Protect Kids' Hearts

Sugar is resulting to heart disease not only in the adult population, but also in children. Dealing with conditions at such a young age sets them up for more serious stressors. Cut down on sweets to protect kids' hearts and provide the younger generation with a more healthful, youthful life!


Sugar is added to an extensive variety of products - in sodas, dressings, sauces, desserts, breads and so much more. Its intake contributes to and accounts for rising numbers of overweight and obese individuals. Additionally, sugar is resulting to heart disease not only in the adult population, but in children. Dealing with conditions at such a young age sets them up for more serious stressors. Cut down on sweets to protect kids' hearts and provide the younger generation with a more healthful, youthful life!

Reduce Children's Heart Disease

Heart disease risk factors included diet, weight, ethnicity (especially African American and Hispanic), and environmental factors such as smoke. And with the general American population eating too much sugar, diet modifications need to be made. A recent study published in the journal Atherosclerosis found modifying sugar intake may just be the change required.

The study manipulated the diets of 43 children aged 9 to 18. The children were African American or Latino (ethnicities with an increased risk of heart disease) with at least one metabolic disorder including high blood pressure (hypertension), high triglycerides, or a marker for fatty liver. Researchers held calories and macronutrient distribution constant (carbohydrate, protein, and fat). The stipulation was swapping out all sugary items (think pastries and cake) with starchier items (think pizza and bagels) over the course of nine days - total sugar intake reduced from 28 to 10 percent while fructose was cut from 12 to 4 percent. Labs were drawn before and after 10 days and the results were astonishing:

•Triglyceride levels dropped 33 percent! Keeping triglycerides within normal limits reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

•ApoC-III dropped 49 percent. ApoC-III is a protein associated with triglycerides - high concentrations of ApoC-III can induce the development of hypertriglyceridemia, or high triglycerides in the blood. Elevated triglycerides can ultimately increase the risk of heart disease.

•Lowering sugar consumption ultimately lowered the triglyceride and ApoC-III risk factors by 30 to 50 percent!

•Small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) disappeared. Also known as the "bad" cholesterol, LDL is shown to increase the risk of heart disease. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, was also shown to increase following a reduced sugar diet. The combination of low LDL and high HDL fosters heart protection.

•Ultimately, the results were dictated strictly on sugar reduction alone without adjustments in total calorie intake or weight differences!

How to Cut Down on Sweets and Reduce Sugar

Introduce Naturally Sweetened Fruits
Start introducing naturally sweetened foods such as fresh fruits in place of sugary treats. When children are away from prepackaged cookies and other sweets, they are less likely to become accustomed to their intake. And when nutritious berries, bananas, and other fresh produce fill up the diet, there is less room for sweets that often provide nothing but sugar and calories.

Keep Sweets Away
As mentioned above, having fresh fruit reduces the attention and desire of sugary items. Additionally, having sweets in the home allows them to be more accessible. Create a healthier environment by reducing packaged products found in the pantry and promote whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, plant-based proteins and fresh produce.

Say NO!
Though it may be hard to not give into crying or screaming children, stay strong when they are constantly demanding sugary treats. Despite the hardship to say no in the now and moment, their heart and health will appreciate the sugary absence in the long run.

Bake Together
Baking allows for ingredient recognition and control. Baking sweeter options together can allow children to better understand ingredients and raise their appreciation. Reduce sugar in recipes or alter their creation. For instance, healthify a chocolate chip cookie recipe by cutting granulated sugar, incorporating applesauce for a natural sweetness, and using oats that offers fiber and nutrients.

Be A Role Model
As children's role model and/or provider, older generations need to set appropriate, healthy examples. Setting a nutritious environment filled with healthful, colorful foods may reduce children's heart disease as well as promoting health to yourself!

Leigh S. Cutting Sugar Causes Drop in Heart Disease Risk Factors Among Obese Children. University of California San Francisco. Available at:

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on September 13, 2016. Updated on October 04, 2016.


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