Sweet treats are a favorite gift to our sweethearts for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it turns out that all that sugar is really the last thing we want to give to the people we love. Not to say that the occasional sweet treat isn’t perfectly fine in light of an otherwise healthy, low sugar diet. The experts tells us it is. The culprit, it turns out, is the vast amount of sugar found in processed foods.

A new study is recently published in the JAMA…a highly regarded medical journal…about the damage done to our hearts from high sugar diets. This link takes you to a simple overview of this latest research. It is mind boggling how much added sugar is found in processed foods. The big zinger, of course, is soda. Many folks turn to artificially sweetened soda as an alternative. Bad news there. The research is still underway, but, emerging evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners…all of them…have a negative effect on our metabolism. Stay tuned for what scientists figure out on that one. In the meantime, it is in our best interest to drink water, tea, coffee, and maybe a little wine, instead of the many processed beverages on the market.

I like the simple way Michael Pollan, food and nutrition expert, puts it: “Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much.” His book, Food Rules: A Eater’s Manual lays out a really simple approach to healthy eating. It is very similar to the Mediterranean Diet which is so highly recommended by many experts. Naturally occurring sugars, found in fruit, are all good as it enters the body in combination with fiber. This changes, altogether, how the body processes sugar. It is the added sugar that does the damage. Again, I will refer you to Dr. Robert Lustig’s book: Fat Chance in which he explains, in depth, how natural sugar, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and fiber interact in our bodies to produce good health or disease.

So let’s forego the candy for our sweethearts. I prefer flowers and jewelry anyway!!

- Dr. Shelly Messer

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