Diets high in added sugars have been connected to
heart risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high blood
pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Families can begin training their children’s taste buds
early, said Rachel Johnson, a former chair of the AHA’s
Nutrition Committee who served on the panel that wrote
the scientific statement.
“Children are developing eating habits and taste
preferences that will last a lifetime,” said Johnson, a
professor of nutrition and pediatrics at the University of
Vermont in Burlington. “The sooner families begin to limit
the amount of added sugars in their diets, the better.”
Added sugars have many names on food labels —
high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice
and more. Added sugar isn’t just present in cakes and
cookies, it can show up in a wide variety of foods such
as Chinese chicken salad, barbecue sauce, hamburger
buns and salad dressings.
“There is consistent evidence that cardiovascular risk
increases as added sugars consumption increases,” the
Beginning July 2018, the Food and Drug Administration
will require manufacturers to show on food labels not just
all sugars, but also those that were added.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the
University of California San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s
Hospital, said sugar itself — and not just the calories it
represents in a diet — is the culprit in numerous health
A study authored by Lustig showed that restricting
added sugars improved heart disease and diabetes
markers for a group of obese children, even when calories
were held constant, in just nine days. The kids ate a diet
where sugar was substituted with starch instead, but still
saw immediate reductions in their blood pressure, and
improvement in their blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
he important thing about physical activity is
that you do some. Depending on your current
state of health, the amount and intensity
recommended may vary a bit.
For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart
Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate
intensity physical activity a week. That can be broken down
to at least 30 minutes per day, five times a week. Or, you can
shorten the amount of time by exercising more vigorously:
at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, (which
can be broken down into 25 minutes at least three days per
week) or a combination of the two. Activities should be done
in blocks of at least 10 minutes and throughout the week.
If you’re working on lowering your blood pressure and/
or LDL cholesterol, the recommendation is a little different.
Try to average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity three or four times per week.
If you’re managing other serious or chronic conditions
or if you have specific medical questions or concerns, talk
with your medical team about the best physical activity
plan for you.
Moderate vs. Vigorous
Any activity is better than no activity, but movement that
raises your heart rate and challenges your muscles affords
the most benefits. But how do you know how moderate or
vigorous the activity you’re engaging in is?
Moderate activity means that your heart is beating
faster. You can still carry on a conversation, but you’ll be
breathing heavier. And you’ll notice that you’re starting to
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, examples
of moderate are: Walking at a brisk pace, riding a bike
slower than 10 miles per hour, water aerobics, doubles
tennis, ballroom dancing, general gardening.
Vigorous activity is higher intensity and feels more
taxing: Your heart is probably beating much faster.
Although you can carry on a conversation, you will find
yourself pausing to take a breath.
Examples from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines
include: Racewalking, running/jogging, singles tennis,
swimming laps, biking 10 miles per hour or faster,
jumping rope, heavy gardening (continuous digging or
hoeing that increases the heart rate), hiking up a hill or
with a heavy backpack.
Visit Heart.org to understand more about the
differences in moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity
and how to know what your intensity-level is while being
How Much Physical
Activity Should I Get?