Sugar, Salt and Supplements
Sorting the Science

Summary

Having trouble keeping up with the “do’s and don’t’s” of consuming sodium, sugar, vitamins and other supplements? You’re not alone. This panel of Harvard experts helped explain the latest thinking on the nutritional science and provide some guidance on steps consumers can take to improve their diets. The panel also took a look at some important policy dimensions to help American adults and children eat nutritionally sound, affordable meals.

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Presented in Collaboration with The Huffington Post

Background Articles

Image Credit: Composite of iStockphoto.com/rambo182 and iStockphoto.com/BrianAJackson

  • Karen Owes

    Do salt substitutes raise blood pressure? Karen Owes, Central Harlem Healthy Start

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    Is obtaining sugar from a natural source (fruit & whole fruit smoothies) still considered unacceptable due to sugar intake? Even though you are obtaining soluble fiber, vitamins, and nutrients?

    Renee Wisely

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    many of my clients argue that they drink juices but that they are mostly coming from vegetables – “green juices” I don’t know how much sugar comes from a bunch of kale but is vegetable juice as harmful?

    Heather Monchik Carey

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    There is also thinking now that smoothies – made with whole fruits, vegetables,plain yogurt, etc. can be just as bad as fruit juice because the fiber is so broken down – thoughts?

    Heather Monchik Carey

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    If supplements studied don’t reduce risks of cancer and heart disease, do they have other nutritional values?

    HarvardVegan

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    If we avoid excess or reduce fruit intake and increase vegetable intake in low-GI diets,where does that put is in terms of nutrient intake?

    HarvardVegan

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    Nutrient delivery mechanisms might vary in effectiveness. Weren’t only TBLETS studied?

    HarvardVegan

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    What about the Omega3 craze? There’s food on the market that is now supplemented with omega3s… and people are still taking their omega3 tablets… how much is too much?

    connieliszt

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    Question: If you don’t eat a lot of dairy products, what level of supplements should you take?

    Seagull-

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    How are we educating patients in the clinical setting with respect to incorporating diet as preventive medicine? Many patients have no idea and are confused. Have you found a simplistic plan of action?

    Dale Buckham

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    How do you fight the behavior that results in over consumption of unhealthy food?

    RitaumBiswas

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    wmscottp: question to Dr. Manson or open to the panel. A postulated reason (from mostly cancer research models)that single vitamin or omega fats supplementation is not efficacious is that the method of delivery to the targeted organs is not specific enough. evidence clearly exists for a profound role of omegas and specific nutrients like xanthophyll and lutein in regulating the ox – redox states of cells which then influences all inflammatory processes in the body.Question is, shouldn’t clinical trials going forward

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    blue200: so again the main issue is self control, how do the poor implement these suggestions?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    wmscottp: truncated from previous question….shouldn’t clinical trials going forward use more progressive methods of genetic tagging technology and delivery of nutrients to be better able to establish potential efficacy? thank you

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    HarvardVegan: Can organized evidence-based behavioral interventions work? If so, how?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    Gina Van Luven: Why are the “experts” still recommending dairy, which has been shown to be harmful?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    ScienceBasedRD: Long term effects of artificial sweeteners on children? What long term effects?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    To the Panel,
    How do you feel about the nutrition value rating systems placed on packages, such as NuVal?
    Thank you.
    Debbie Goddard

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    In many communities there is a shortage of choice of right foods. I live as many of my family and friends in “middle class” neighborhoods that have big supermarkets. The problem is that “natural” foods are almost two times the cost, in addition I find that “organic” or natural foods have high sodium.

    What is the answer to these issues?

    What happens in poor neighborhoods that do not have big supermarkets available?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    My APRN say to me after a physical that my Fructose was high. That I should cut back or out soda, fruit juice, dressings, etc.

    I read labels on everything that I purchase and if it has 1-3g of sugar is that too much sugar?

    a tip of a finger of juice mixed with seltzer is that an alternative?

    It is confusing to chose drinks or foods now with so many do’s and don’t’s.

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    We hear the need to reduce sodium and we also see the rise in the use of sea salt. What drives me crazy is that nobody tells you to be careful of the fact that both reducing sodium and using sea salt means that we do not often get sufficient levels of iodine and we are seeing an increase in thyroid problems which we know this gland needs iodine.
    What do you say about this?
    Thanks!
    Diana

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Hi,
    1) Does sugar dosage matter? For instance, is it better to eat half a banana at breakfast at 8am and the other half at 11am, or eat the banana at once? Will diving it create another spike?
    2) Any advice for PCOS patients?
    Thank you,
    Demi

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    There are physicians touting the value of omega-7s on improving vascular health. Supposedly, they also “control hepatic fat” and “promote beta cell activity to help use glucose efficiently”. Omega 7 sources include buckthorn, macadamia nuts and wild anchovies.
    Thanks for your advice,
    Karen Olness MD
    Professor of Pediatrics, Global Health and Diseases
    Case Western Reserve University

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    The WHO and the AHA differ in their sugar recommendations, possibly leading to public confusion. Both organizations recommend individualized limits, however, based on either gender or average calories consumed. In the interest of encouraging the most people to limit sugar intake regularly, do you think individualized limits are effective, or, for simplicity’s sake, would it be more effective to recommend a flat limit across the board – say, 25 grams per person – similar to current sodium recommendations?
    Thanks,
    Diana K. Rice, RD
    Registered Dietitian, The Monday Campaigns

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Do salt substitutes increase blood pressure ? I am African American, how will I know if I have salt sensitivity that increases my blood pressure.
    Thanks
    Karen Owes
    Health Educator
    Central Harlem Healthy Start

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL
    Will you address how someone who is overall healthy but is in need of weight loss is
    directed on supplements? We often say, Food First, supplement second (and minimally).
    For example, a multivitamin is typically the only recommendation.
    Secondly, the University of Michigans Healing Foods Pyramid gets little discussion and yet
    Is very dynamic and worthy of further discussion. Thoughts on it?
    Thank you,
    Valerie

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Question:
    given the recent contradictory evidence on diary saturated fat and the confusing List of ingredients in many of the so-called heart healthy spreads on the market, what you advise applying to whole grain toast, butter or one of the “heart healthy” spreads?
    George

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Dear Panelists:
    When I avoid eating sugar and simple carbohydrates my blood pressure is normal (120/80 or lower). But, when I eat sugar and simple carbohydrates my blood pressure is high (140+/90+), which requires my taking blood pressure medication. Why is this? I do not salt my food.
    Thank you,
    Cindy, MPH

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Prof. Willett recently made statements to the press that full-fat dairy may actually be better for weight loss than non-fat dairy

    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/newsplus/full-fat-dairy-may-reduce-obesity-risk/

    although it is of course well-established that saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease and drinking too much milk increases the risk of prostate cancer.

    I have noticed that putting non-fat milk in a blender with the right amount olive oil produces full-fat milk without the saturated fat, and that the resulting mixture tastes just like whole milk. (Indeed, an excess of oil can make the milk taste quite rich and creamy.)

    Do you think this is a desirable third alternative to choice between non-fat or whole-saturated-fat milk?

    -Jon

    PS. A Harvard graduate student studying biophysics told me that if I add surfactant to the milk then the suspension of fat can be stabilized, so that it will not separate. I think she said that this is the way that nature itself does it. Without surfactant this artificially fattened milk is stable in the refrigerator for about 36 hours, if I wip it at high speed with a blender.

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Question: Salt occurs in processed foods as well as natural foods/water. Is either source less detrimental to your health than the other?
    Cheryl Jones

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    1) What is the upper limit for daily sugar (g) intake? I know the upper limit of sodium (1,500 or 2,300) and how to calculate my daily protein RDA (0.8 g/kg healthy body weight in healthy adults), but I am not so sure about sugar.
    2) Does exceeding the upper limit put you at particular risk for developing diabetes? Or is this not a risk factor, and diabetes develops independent of daily sugar intake amounts
    Thank you,
    Abe Appel, RN
    @AppelRN

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Notwithstanding the conflicting recommendations (1,500 or 2,300) for daily sodium intake in healthy people, how big/small of an impact upon BloodPressure is there when reducing sodium intake to <1500 mg/day instead of <2300mg/day (in healthy people)? Reducing excessive sodium intake has been found to corrolate with reduced blood pressure but is there a noticible difference when not only reducing excessive intake to 2,300 but going further and bringing it down to 1,500 mg/day?

    Here is a condensed form of the question to fit in Twitter: How big/small of an impact upon #BloodPressure is there when reducing #sodium intake to <1500 mg/day instead of <2300mg/day?
    Thank you,
    Abe S. Appel, RN

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Hello; ı want to ask a question about babies, what do you think about to give babies salt and sugar especially under 1 year old. Thank you

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Because I have osteoporosis, I restrict sodium in my diet. Would you please advise me on the lowest level upon people can do well? Is it 500 mg/day?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    When bread(s) are consumed a large portion of its starches are quickly converted to glucose. It has been in the popular press, for some time, that this may pose an worrisome glycemic challenge for some. My question is: If bread(s) are eaten with other foods, including acidic components, such as dressings and sauces, would the rapid rise in blood glucose levels be mitigated?