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Sugar and Heart Disease in the Elderly

Americans love their sweets! We’re eating and drinking about 22 teaspoons per day of sugar which is about 355 calories, and equal to about 150 pounds a year.

It’s important to know how much sugar you consume because our bodies really don’t need sugar to function properly. Even if you’re an active person, the unhealthy effects of too much sugar can take a toll on your body. Too much sugar can add calories that can lead to extra pounds or even obesity which can reduce heart health.

How Does Sugar Affect the Heart in Seniors?

Most cardiovascular risk factors are more prevalent in seniors than in young adults. However, with the recent decline in cardiovascular mortality which has included the elderly, studies have shown the disease is controllable. The decrease in cardiovascular mortality has occurred thanks to the reduction of saturated fat and cholesterol in diets, the increased use of vegetable oils, and improved knowledge of the levels of cardiovascular risk factors.

How Much Sugar Should A Senior Eat?

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugar intake to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For men, that equates to 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons – and for women, it’s no more than about 100 calories per day, or equal to 6 teaspoons of sugar.

Naturally occurring sugar can be found in any food that contains carbohydrates, according to the Heart Foundation. This includes fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. These foods are also packed with nutrients like fiber, calcium, protein, minerals, and antioxidants. This sugar overload calculator shows how much sugar is in food that you may eat every day.

Reading Labels and Learning Sugar’s Names.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to try to consume less sugar. Added sugars are everywhere. The amount of sugar Americans consume each day has increased steadily over the past decades because processed foods, artificial sweeteners and desserts have become more popular. When you check cans and packages, look for some of these names for added sugars used in processed foods and beverages:

  • Agave
  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Cane juice
  • Carob syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Demerara sugar
  • Galactose
  • Grape sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Palm sugar
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Treacle
  • Xylose

According to the American Heart Association, a gram of sugar is about four calories. As you shop in a grocery store, review the packages of products and see how many grams of sugar are contained in a serving. That’s the easiest way to add up how many calories from sugar you’re eating.

Ways Seniors Can Offset Heart Disease.

The National Institute on Aging offers these methods to deter heart disease:

  • Keep up activity levels.
    Participate in daily exercise for a total of at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
    Eat lighter, smaller portions of food and stay physically active.
  • Don’t smoke.
    Smoking causes heart damage and leads to premature death.
  • Establish a healthy diet.
    Consume foods that are low in fat, have less added sugar and salt. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and high-fiber foods.
  • Take control of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
    Follow medications and your physician’s advice.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
    One drink per day is the recommendation for most people.
  • Reduce stress.
    Try meditation, exercising, or a stress management program.

When you or a loved one does need rehabilitative therapy for cardiac care, our community is a premier choice. At Windsor Estates, we know the importance of heart health for seniors. We help our residents remain healthy and happy with expert physical rehab in our fully equipped fitness center, nutrition-packed meals, and invigorating programs. Our talented team of professionals makes a deep commitment to each person’s personal preferences.

Explore our levels of living in St. Charles, Missouri and contact us for more information.