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February is heart health month

February is the month to wear red and think about hearts. This is especially true when it comes to the health of our hearts. A study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine on Monday shows getting too much added sugar in your diet could significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The study reports those who got 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.

Added sugars and syrups added to sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, candy, cereals and yeast breads have been known contributing factors to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol for many years.

This is the first study to tie these together and show that too much added sugar could lead to heart disease and kill you, said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

According to the study, most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day.

The American Heart Association recommends:
• No more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for women.
• No more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.

“This study is another confirmatory piece in the growing body of science that supports the American Heart Association’s recommendations,” said American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and medical director of Penn’s Heart and Vascular Center.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugars in the American diet. They should be limited to 36 ounces or 450 calories a week, Johnson said.

A can of regular soda packs about 35 grams of added sugars, equivalent to 8.75 teaspoons or 140 calories. Reducing or cutting out soda, fruit, sports and energy drinks as well as enhanced waters, sweetened teas and sugary coffee drinks can go a long way toward that goal, Johnson said.

“We should have added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label so consumers can tell how much added sugars are in the products they are buying,” Johnson said.

With all this new information, some may be wondering, what do we do about this very month which represents a love of chocolate? Never fear, the above study is looking at added sugars not naturally occurring sugars from fresh fruits for example and dark chocolate, in moderation, is good for our hearts. So, try this luscious treat with your valentine and take care of both your hearts.

Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate
Recipe from

Servings: 4 | Prep time: 10 min


  • 2 ounces high-quality dark chocolate
  • 12 strawberries

Microwave chocolate in a small bowl on Medium for one minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on medium in 20-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Or place in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted. Dip strawberries in the melted chocolate.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

  • Cal= 133,
  • fat= 4g,
  • sat. fat= 2g,
  • carb= 10g,
  • fiber= 2g,
  • protein= 1g,
  • Potassium= 37mg