Okay folks, the strikes against caloric sweeteners (like table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) are mounting, and by now there are way more than three…so I say, “You’re out!”

It’s long been known that eating too many refined carbs—which includes sugars as well as refined flour, white rice, etc.—is associated with a certain lipid profile (a series of tests that determines whether you’re at risk of developing heart disease), and that a diet high in refined carbs is linked to lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL), higher levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), and increased triglycerides. And what are all these things associated with? Yup, you guessed it—an increased risk of heart disease.

A recent study looked specifically at the effects of added dietary sweeteners on blood lipids (fats) and found, not surprisingly, that the results were very similar to the studies done on refined carbs—lower good cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and higher ratios of triglycerides to HDL. But the great thing about this new study is that it adds more fuel to the recommendation of a reduced-sugar diet. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends fewer than 100 calories of added sugar daily for women, and fewer than 150 calories of added sugar daily for men.

To give you an idea of how much sugar that is, it helps to know that there are 3.8 calories in every gram of sugar. So, for women 100 calories would be 26 grams, and for men 150 calories would be 39 grams—which is roughly the amount of sugar in a typical can of coca cola…see how quickly it can add up?

When trying to reduce your sugar intake, be sure to look at food labels. Is sugar or high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredient label? If it is, how many grams of sugar are in the product? And is it more than you really need? It’s time to start paying attention!