A little sugar can boost your death risk

The junk peddlers of the snack industry and their friends in government have a message for you: Go ahead -- eat some snacks, and drink some soda.

The claim is that a little won't hurt you… that it's all about balance, moderation, staying active and calories in vs. calories out, not daily sugar intake.

And I'm here to tell you that it's all a big lie.

Sugar can and will kill you, and new research of daily sugar intake shows that the risks aren't limited to the junk-food junkies and soda addicts who swallow the stuff all day long.

No, even the so-called moderate habit -- the amount of sugar in a single can of soda per day -- is enough to do you in, according to the study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The sugar in that one daily can of soda, for example, will increase your risk of death from heart disease by 18 percent, according to the study. Drink (or eat) more sugar and your risk could jump by double or more.

The biggest risk is in people who get 25 percent of their calories from sugar -- or about 500 calories a day in a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet. That may sound like a lot, but that's actually the amount consumed by more than 30 million Americans every day.

And much of it comes from soda.

Some of the rest comes from obvious sources, like juice drinks, candy and cakes, as well as more than a few places you might not expect. Salad dressings and tomato sauces, for example, often contain added sugars.

In fact, more than three-quarters of all packaged foods have added sugars, which is why many people have a habit equal to a can of soda a day or more and don't even realize it.

If you're hooked on sugar yourself (whether you know it or not), it's time to kick the habit -- and you can do that right now with three simple steps.

First, pass on all obvious sources of sugar such as soda and sugary snacks to keep your daily sugar intake down.

Second, skip all "diet" alternatives; they're made with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that are just as dangerous as sugar. If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, use only safe and natural no-calorie sweeteners such as lo han and xylitol.

And third, don't eat anything in a can, bag or bottle. Eat only fresh foods you've made yourself. You'll never have to worry about hidden sugars (and other additives, for that matter), and you'll always know exactly what you're eating.