ISLAMABAD: Many of us eat salad and pound on a treadmill in the aim of being healthy.
 
Instead, cutting out sugar could slash our risk of disease, experts have said.
 
In just nine days, reducing sugar - without cutting calories or losing weight - was able to significantly lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as improving liver function.  
 
Scientists behind the study said it showed that sugar was 'metabolically harmful not because of its calories' - but because it is sugar.
 
Reducing sugar - without cutting calories or losing weight - was able to significantly improve health in just nine days, a study has found
 
The study looked at the effect of restricting sugar on metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
 
Metabolic syndrome can include high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.
 
The study involved 43 children aged nine to 18 who were asked to visit the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital.
 
All the children had a Latino or African-American background because of their higher risk for certain conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels.
 
The children were all obese and had at least one other chronic disorder, such as high blood pressure.
 
Over a period of nine days, the children followed a meal plan that included all snacks and drinks, but restricted sugar intake.
 
THREE CUPS OF HERBAL TEA A DAY CAN IMPROVE BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS  
 
Three cups of camomile tea a day could improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, according to a new study.
 
Researchers gave 64 people with diabetes either camomile tea or water to drink three times a day after meals for two months.
 
The participants had regular blood tests - and results published in the journal Nutrition showed that, after just eight weeks, the regular camomile tea drinkers had lower blood sugar levels and higher antioxidant levels compared with those who drank water.
 
The researchers, from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, in Iran, suggest the antioxidant quercetin has an effect on enzymes that play a role in the development of diabetes.
 
Added sugar was banned but fruit was allowed.
 
The diet overall had the same fat, protein, carbohydrate, and calorie levels as their previous diets at home, with the carbohydrate from sugar replaced by foods such as bagels, cereals and pasta. 
 
Hot dogs, crisps and pizza from local supermarkets all featured in the diet.
 
Initial fasting blood levels, blood pressure, and glucose tolerance were assessed before the new meals were eaten.
 
During the study, if the children did lose weight, they were given more of the low sugar foods to keep weight stable.
 
Overall, the total dietary sugar in the meal plan was was reduced from 28 per cent to 10 per cent, and fructose from 12 per cent to 4 per cent of total calories.
 
The results showed that the new meal plan led to dramatic improvements in health in a short time,
with a drop in blood pressure and cholesterol, and improved liver function.
 
Children in the study who swapped sugar for bagels, crisps and cereals showed a significant drop in blood pressure and cholesterol, and improved liver function