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February is National Heart Health Month! This month we want to celebrate by sharing all the ways that reducing sugar intake is important for a healthy heart. 
Yes you read that right! We said sugar!
Back in November 2014, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study finding that people who ate more added sugar were at a higher risk for heart disease.  Specifically, people who consumed 17 - 21% of calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8% calories from added sugar. Those who consumed 21% or more calories from added sugar had more than double the risk.  Because of these findings, the American Heart Association revamped their guidelines and now recommends women have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day (equivalent to 100 calories) and men have no more than 9 teaspoons (equivalent to 150 calories) per day. 

So, what exactly does added sugar mean?
Added sugar is a simple sugar that has been added to processed foods to improve their flavor. It only provides sweetness and empty calories, without any nutritional benefits. Natural sugar, on the other hand, is sugar that already occurs in dairy, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. The natural sugar in these foods supplies fuel for your brain and muscles, and is absorbed more slowly than the added sugar in processed foods. Read our blog post for more information on the difference between natural and added sugar.
This month we're sharing 6 Tips to Decrease Added Sugar for a Healthier Heart. We hope it inspires you to explore ways to reduce added sugar in your diet.
6 Tips To Decrease Added Sugar for a Healthier Heart:
  1. Reduce and remove sugar-sweetened beverages. A twelve ounce can of soda packs in about 9 teaspoons of sugar, equivalent to 35 grams and 140 calories. Sugar-sweetened beverages include not only soda but also fruit juices, fancy coffee drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sugar sweetened kefir, as well as organic juices. Simply eliminating sugary beverages from your diet can significantly reduce your overall sugar consumption.
  2. Read the food label. The new Nutrition Facts label is receiving a much needed overhaul.  By 2018 we will start seeing updated labels. The new Nutrition Facts label will include a line stating how much added sugar is in the product, helping the consumer decipher between natural sugar and added sugars.  Until this comes out, look at the food's ingredients list.  Sugar may be hiding behind names like honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, cane juice, maltose, and more.
  3. Watch the condiments. Condiments such as BBQ sauce, ketchup, and salad dressing can sneak in extra sugar. Two tablespoons of ketchup has 7.4 grams (nearly two teaspoons!) of sugar—almost one-third the daily recommendation for women! Be aware of how frequently you use these foods and start asking yourself “Is there a better alternative?”, “Am I adding ketchup out of taste or habit?”, “Can I use less?” Small changes add up.
  4. Remove the health halo. Some foods marketed as “health foods” yet they are loaded with added sugar.  Some of these foods include granola, smoothies, yogurt, granola bars, dried fruit, and even some breads. I’m not suggesting banning them, but read labels and be aware of how much added sugar you’re getting from these “health foods.” Look for alternatives with no added sugar. A little education and awareness will go a long way in reducing sugar intake!
  5. Start your day with less sugar and more fiber. Breakfast is not the time for dessert. Breakfast cereals should have less than 5 grams of sugar and more than 5 grams of fiber per serving.  A great start to the day includes foods high in fiber such as oatmeal, hot quinoa, sprouted grain bread, and low sugar high fiber cold cereal complemented with protein and healthy fats. Try Puffins Cereal, Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal, or Nature's Path Smart Grain Cereal.  Eggs, nuts, seeds, plain Greek yogurt and nonfat cottage cheese are all good sources of protein to start the day.
  6. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit. Replace your traditional sweet tooth favorites such as candy, desserts, cakes, cookies, and pastries with fresh fruit.

Quinoa and Egg Power Bowl

Yield: 3 bowlspowerbowl
Recipe from Eggland’s Best, recipe by:

½ cup quinoa, rinsed, drained and cooked according to pkg. Directions
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Dash garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup sweetcorn kernels
½ cup black beans
½ cup tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
¼ cup red onion, chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
2-3 Eggland's Best Eggs (large)
½ avocado
Salt & Pepper to taste
¼ cup cilantro


  1. Add cumin to cooked quinoa and season with garlic powder and lime juice.

  2. Divide quinoa among 3 individual bowls.

  3. Top quinoa with corn, black beans and tomatoes.

  4. Heat oil in a skillet and saute onion and red pepper.

  5. Add in eggs and scramble together. Divide evenly among the bowls.

  6. Top each bowl with avocado chunks and cilantro and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size:1 Bowl, Calories 390, Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 117 mg, Sodium 61 mg, Carbohydrates 51g, Dietary Fiber 9g, Protein 17 g


A Word from Mary Beth:

"Sixty-seven years old, 5'3", 170 pounds.  Overweight, way overweight - again.  I definitely had to lose weight - again.  For 50 years I had been yo-yo dieting.  OK, this time it was going to be different.  I joined a well-known weight loss program - again.  After struggling, and not necessarily eating that well, I got down to 156 pounds, and stayed there.  Oh no, I still had so far to go and did not know how to get there.  Doing the same old thing did not seem to be an answer.

Then I saw an article in a local newspaper about Marcia and Fueling Fitness.  I knew that learning how to eat healthfully for the rest of my lifetime was really what I needed.  I got in contact.

Sixty-seven years old, 5'3", 134 pounds (and losing!).  Marcia is an extremely effective nutrition coach.  Her depth of knowledge, broad experience, supportive and realistic attitude and sincere interest in the whole person helped me to achieve a wonderful healthy eating lifestyle.  Thanks for taking this journey with me, Marcia!

-Mary Beth
"It is easier and more cost effective to maintain good health than to regain it once it is lost." Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH
3 Health Consequences of Too Much Sugar


  1. Increased Risk of Obesity - It doesn’t come as a surprise that the 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) review of literature on weight and sugar found an increased amount of sugar in the diet is associated with weight gain. However, sugar is not the only blame for an increase in rates of obesity. Overall increase in calorie intake, including, but not limited to, easier access to food, larger portion sizes, decrease in physical activity and other changes in our environment all contribute to increased rates of obesity.
  2. Tooth Decay - People who consume more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugar have higher rates of tooth decay. Following the tips above along with proper dental hygiene is the best way to prevent tooth decay. Quick tip: Brush your teeth immediately after eating sweets, especially sticky sweets like caramel.
  3. Heart Disease - Sugar increases blood triglycerides and cholesterol, which can result in hardening of the arteries and increase the risk for heart attack, stroke and heart disease. There are also some studies linking sugar with high blood pressure. Bottom line, for a healthy heart reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet.

Fueling Fitness News!

We are excited to launch a new, online health promotion program - REFINE.  This program started on February 1, but it is not too late to join in!  You'll receive an email every day and get the resources and support you need to reach any goal, whether it is to increase activity, lose weight, feel better, or even train for an athletic event!

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