reasons to eat less sugar

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Your Heart, Pancreas, Liver and Kidneys Will Thank You

The science: People who drank sugar-sweetened beverages every day gained nearly 30 percent more visceral fat (the kind that's deep within your stomach, and is considered particularly dangerous by experts) over six years than people who never drank them. (The research was published in Circulation.) Visceral fat is associated with both diabetes and heart disease.

Consider this, too: Sugar may be a bigger contributor to heart disease than saturated fat. That's the argument presented by a recent paper in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease. "The cholesterol abnormalities that can be caused by saturated fat can also be caused by sugar," says lead study author James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, referring to higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol.

Sucrose (aka table sugar) is also bad news for your liver and kidneys, as well: "Not every cell can metabolize it," explains DiNicolantonio. That task falls mainly on the liver. "So, when you over-consume it, you're stressing the liver and that can lead to fatty deposits in the liver and fatty liver disease, and it's also damaging to the kidneys."

The takeaway: Just as sugar can change your waistline for the worse, it can also do a number on your vital organs. Sugary drinks are one of the top sources of added sugars in the American diet, and even cutting back a little can help. Compared to daily drinkers, people who had sugar-sweetened drinks more than once a week (but less than once a day) gained 20 percent less visceral fat.