You should be sour on sweet beverages 

From Austria to Zimbabwe and more than 43 countries in between, sweet soda (Frucade, GoGo) is the drink of choice. But here in North America, we’ve taken it to a new level: Canadians down 27 gallons of syrupy liquids per person per year, Mexicans drink 38.5 gallons, and Americans gulp more soda and sweet beverages than in any other country — 45 gallons!

Added sugar makes up almost 15 percent of the calories in an average North American diet. That takes a big toll: Tracking more than 12,000 Americans for 14 years, researchers found that folks who consumed the most added sugar were twice as likely to die of heart disease. No surprise there!

So if you want to take steps toward a sweeter future, reduce — even eliminate — added sugar and sugar syrups from your diet. (It’ll also sweeten the economy by reducing health care costs.) And you’ll improve your heart health, brain power and sex life.

Read the labels and say no to sweetened beverages and packaged foods. One bottle of peach iced tea packs up to 50 grams of added sugar. A fat-free lemon yogurt has 31 grams.

Look at ingredients list for syrups listed as anything ending in “-ose,” like high-fructose corn syrup; and added sugars, like molasses; cane sugar or fruit juice concentrate.

Exceptions? For a sweet treat, enjoy 1 ounce of 70 percent dark chocolate. Take a teaspoon of unfiltered honey in your tea.

Both deliver heart-loving polyphenols, flavonoids, B vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium and manganese. Sweet!

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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