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Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease

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Risk Factors For Heart Disease

Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease? — The Doctors

There are many factors that can increase your risk of heart disease. Although some of these cannot be changed, the good news is that there are plenty of risk factors within your control. For example, by being physically active, ensuring you have good social support and not smoking, your risk of heart disease is reduced.

Risk factors that can’t be changed Risk factors within your control
Physical activity levels
Depression and social isolation

Some risk factors are connected. For example, cholesterol levels and blood pressure can be affected by diet, as can your body weight and management of diabetes.

Therefore, one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease is to have a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight!

Eating Too Much Added Sugar Increases The Risk Of Dying With Heart Disease

A sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you arent overweight. So says a major study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Added sugars make up at least 10% of the calories the average American eats in a day. But about one in 10 people get a whopping one-quarter or more of their calories from added sugar.

Over the course of the 15-year study on added sugar and heart disease, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar. Overall, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the dietand that was true regardless of a persons age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index .

Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks are by far the biggest sources of added sugar in the average Americans diet. They account for more than one-third of the added sugar we consume as a nation. Other important sources include cookies, cakes, pastries, and similar treats fruit drinks ice cream, frozen yogurt and the like candy and ready-to-eat cereals.

To put that in perspective, a 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar, so quaffing even one a day would put all women and most men over the daily limit.

We Decided To Find Out

Natural occurring sugar can be found in any food that contains carbohydrates. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. However, these foods all also are packed with nutrients such as fiber, minerals, antioxidants, calcium, and protein.

Sugar consumption becomes a problem when the sugar comes from processed foods.

A 15-year study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar. The study was spearheaded by Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.T. Chan School of Public Health.

Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease, says Dr. Hu.

Harvard Health Publishing

The American Heart Association suggests that the average American woman should consume less than 100 calories of added sugar per day and men should consume less than 150 calories per day .

Daily, the average American adult consumes over 17 teaspoons of sugar that have been added to their food and drinks, the equivalent of 272 calories. Put simply, less than 10% of our daily calories consumed should come from added sugars.

Check out this amazing Sugar Overload Calculator from Healthy Food America to see how much sugar is in food that you may eat every day!

Sugar comes in many formsThe Conversation


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May Increase Your Risk Of Cancer

Eating excessive amounts of sugar may increase your risk of developing certain cancers.

First, a diet rich in sugary foods and beverages can lead to obesity, which significantly raises your risk of cancer .

Furthermore, diets high in sugar increase inflammation in your body and may cause insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk .

A study in over 430,000 people found that added sugar consumption was positively associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, pleural cancer and cancer of the small intestine .

Another study showed that women who consumed sweet buns and cookies more than three times per week were 1.42 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who consumed these foods less than 0.5 times per week .

Research on the link between added sugar intake and cancer is ongoing, and more studies are needed to fully understand this complex relationship.


Too much sugar can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for cancer.

Increases Your Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Does Sugar Cause Heart ...

The worldwide prevalence of diabetes has more than doubled over the past 30 years .

Though there are many reasons for this, there is a clear link between excessive sugar consumption and diabetes risk.

Obesity, which is often caused by consuming too much sugar, is considered the strongest risk factor for diabetes .

Whats more, prolonged high-sugar consumption drives resistance to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance causes blood sugar levels to rise and strongly increases your risk of diabetes.

A population study comprising over 175 countries found that the risk of developing diabetes grew by 1.1% for every 150 calories of sugar, or about one can of soda, consumed per day .

Other studies have also shown that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages, including fruit juice, are more likely to develop diabetes .


A high-sugar diet may lead to obesity and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

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Blood Sugar And Heart Disease

Acute coronary syndrome is either a heart attack or unstable angina, and among people hospitalized for it, 57% had abnormal glucose metabolism, based on a simple fasting blood glucose test. Of those, 66% had not been diagnosed or treated for diabetes.

Approximately 25-30% of patients with acute coronary syndrome have diabetes. Of the remaining patients, most have a spectrum of abnormal glucose metabolism, including previously undiagnosed impaired fasting glucose and diabetes mellitus.

When over 1300 patients with impaired glucose tolerance were treated with the diabetes drug acarbose, risk of major cardiovascular events dropped by over 50%.

The rate of fatal coronary heart disease among diabetics is from 2 to 3 times higher than in non-diabetics.

Check out the following graph, which I discussed here. It shows the results when a team led by Gerald Reaven divided a group of men into tertiles by steady state plasma glucose, a measure of insulin resistance. Those with the highest insulin resistance had the most heart disease . Those with the best insulin sensitivity had zero cases of coronary disease not to mention cancer, stroke, and the rest.

To summarize the relation between blood glucose and heart attacks:

Refined Carbohydrates Sugar Whole Grains Dietary Fiber And Chd: The Early Years

In the late 1960s and through the 1970s several medical investigators, all from southern England, proposed that CHD was strongly related to refined carbohydrates, sugar, and a low intake of dietary fiber. The main supporting evidence was based on international comparisons of diet and incidence of CHD.

Yudkin argued that sugar was implicated in several diseases, most notably CHD . However, the supporting evidence was weak. First, there was no established mechanism by which sugar might cause CHD. In particular, sugar has only a weak effect on the blood cholesterol level . An additional problem with the evidence was that cohort studies published at that time failed to find a clear association between intake of sugar and risk of CHD. Because of the weakness of the evidence, the hypothesis never gained widespread acceptance. One factor, though probably a minor one, was that the sugar industry in the USA paid researchers to publish papers that emphasized the role of SFA in the causation of CHD while minimizing the role of sugar . This scandal only came to light in 2016.

While Yudkin focused narrowly on the role of sugar in CHD and other diseases, Cleave spread the blame more widely on refined carbohydrates . He blamed these foods for not only CHD but also for a host of diseases now known as chronic diseases of lifestyle or non-communicable diseases.

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Get Ready For Younger

The sugar in your diet affects the amount of sugar in your bloodstreamand studies suggest that high blood sugar levels set up a molecular domino effect called glycation. Say what? That’s just a fancy term for a process that can hinder the repair of your skin’s collagen, the protein that keeps it looking plump. A diet full of treats can also lead to reduced elasticity and premature wrinkles. Thankfully, research suggests that slashing your sugar intake can help lessen sagging and other visible signs of ageing.

Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease

Can Sugar Intake Cause Heart Disease? | Heart Disease
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Does sugar cause heart disease? Evidence points to it.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found highly positive and graded correlations between sugar intake and death from cardiovascular disease . Comparing quintiles of sugar intake, the highest consumers had more than double the risk of dying from CVD.

In the highest consumers, who ate > 25% of their calories as sugar, the risk nearly tripled. Those who consumed > 10% but < 25% of calories as sugar, had 30% increased risk of death.

Most adults that this study looked at, 71% of them, consumed more than 10% of calories as added sugar, and around 10% of them consumed more than 25% of calories as added sugar.

Pathetic. And we wonder why theres an epidemic of heart disease and obesity.

The results were adjusted for sociodemographic, behavioral, and clinical characteristics.

I believe that these heart disease risks may be underestimates, when you compare the risks to people who consume no sugar at all. Since over 70% of adults consume more than 10% of calories as sugar, people who eat zero sugar must be hard to find, at least enough for a study.

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Why Foods Cause Heart Palpitations

Feeling palpitations after eating is a relatively common experience, which tends to occur when a substance in your food or drinkor your bodys natural biochemical response to that substancejolts the hearts electrical system and causes fluttering sensations, skipped beats, or a feeling that your heart is beating too hard or too fast.

Coffee drinkers, think about the last time you drank one cup too many. You know what I mean!

If your heart is healthy and you have no history of arrhythmia or heart diseaseand youre not experiencing any other symptomstheres little need to worry about an occasional episode of these irregular beats. For people who do have arrhythmias or cardiac issues, however, its a different story. Palpitations caused by food can cause an existing disruption in your hearts rhythm to escalate, and potentially lead to a major event.

What Many Of Us Believe Is Wrong

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart diseases continue to be the leading cause of death for both men and women. It kills about 610,000 Americans every year and accounts for 1 in every four deaths. For several decades, incidences of heart diseases and deaths due to heart diseases were blamed on saturated fats. While its true that fats are the leading causes of heart diseases, as proven by numerous clinical trials and studies, excess consumption of sugar also contributes to this silent killer.

But why is it that cholesterol from fats is the only dietary item considered as the cause of cardiovascular diseases? It is because our current medical knowledge is based on flawed research published some fifty years ago.

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Is Cholesterol Associated With Heart Disease

If older people with higher cholesterol live longer, then it seems unlikely that high cholesterol causes heart disease.

Adding to the evidence, or lack of it, regarding cholesterol, the average patient admitted to the hospital with coronary artery disease had:

  • total cholesterol: 174
  • HDL: 40
  • triglycerides: 161

Of these numbers, the total and LDL cholesterol are considered either optimal or nearly so. The HDL and triglycerides are considered abnormal. The number of patients in this study was 136,905, so I think we can say its representative.

Further evidence against cholesterol being involved in heart disease comes from Luca Mascitelli and co-authors, who state that other cholesterol-reducing treatments different from statins have no effect on subsequent coronary mortality. These other treatments include clofibrate and hormone replacement therapy in women.

The Lyon Diet Heart Study achieved a 70% reduction in mortality in patients with heart disease without lowering cholesterol.

Furthermore, a dose-response relationship between the degree of cholesterol lowering and clinical outcome has not been demonstrated in statin trials where the dose-response was calculated using individual data. Paper embedded below.

Still think cholesterol causes heart disease?

Sugar And Coronary Heart Disease

Do Sugar and Fat Cause Heart Disease?

Our heart is simply outstanding! Beating tirelessly to supply blood from the brain to the toes, we would literally be dead without the little guy. The health of the heart is so important.

We have long been told that increased intake of saturated fats is a no-no for heart health due to implications like coronary heart disease. But what about high intakes of sugar? Or the overconsumption of processed, packaged foods, so commonplace in our modern world?

Lets take a look.

The pathogenesis of coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease is when plaque builds up in your coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, and correlated with high blood cholesterol. That plaque build-up is the well-known, and not-so-great, atherosclerosis.

Whilst a necessary part of the bodys defence system, inflammation that is running rampant because of dietary and lifestyle influences means bad news for heart health. In particular, the arteries can be damaged, and cholesterol is sent out to form plaques over the damaged area. However some types of cholesterol, when oxidised, contribute further to the arterial inflammation.

Of the various types of cholesterol, LDL is considered the bad cholesterol, although it is actually comprised of several forms of LDL some worse than others. And it seems it may be the ratio of these LDL fractions that are correlated with cardiovascular issues such as blood vessel damage, as opposed to raised LDL as a whole.

Isnt it about the fats?


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Added Sugar: How Much Is Too Much

Not all sugars are created equal. Natural sugars, found in foods like milk and fruit, can be part of a healthy diet. What you want to watch for are added sugars.

Added sugars include the white table sugar, honey or maple syrup you stir into your coffee or drizzle on pancakes. Added sugars are also common ingredients in processed foods. You find them in sweet treats like soda, sweetened yogurt, cookies and ice cream.

But added sugar is also hiding in places you might not expect it, like canned soups or hamburger buns. Foods like bread can have a lot of added sugar, even though you might not taste it, Patton says.

That makes it easy to eat too much added sugar without even realizing it. How much is too much? The American Heart Association recommends no more than:

  • 100 calories of added sugar per day for women.
  • 150 calories per day for men.

Strains Your Heart Muscle

“Americans have increased their calorie intake over the past 30 years primarily in the form of carbohydrates and sugars,” says Johnson. And those 256 extra calories per day we consume in the form of added sugar are likely leading to weight gain, which may directly damage the heart, according to new research. Obese adults have elevated levels of an enzyme that indicates injured heart muscle, found researchers at Johns Hopkins Universitydemonstrating that long before a heart attack may occur, those carrying extra weight are experiencing damage directly to their hearts. And you don’t have to be gravely overweight for the damage to occurthe risk rose incrementally with BMI.

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Prevent Heart Diseases Now Cut Your Sugar Intake Today

Now that the beans are spilled, public health officials are tasked with educating people on reducing carbohydrate and sugar intake. The American Heart Association, the World Health Organization, and other health authorities are in chorus in warning the public about the harmful effects of too much sugar in your diet.

According to an article published by the New York Times, reducing dietary sugar intake resulted in a dramatic improvement in heart disease markers. The study found that cutting sugar intake can significantly reduce fat, protein, and cholesterol numbers linked to heart disease. It further strengthens the findings of a previous study that implicates added sugar as a contributory factor to heart diseases and metabolic disorders. It also supports the findings of a major study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that found that a sugar-laden diet increases the risk of death due to heart disease even if you arent obese.

The biggest sources of sugar in the American diet are sugar-sweetened beverages such as sports drinks, energy drinks, and sodas. These highly addictive beverages account for more than one-third of the added sugar Americans consume. Some of the other sources of sugar include pastries, ice cream, fruit drinks, candies, frozen yogurt, and cereals.

Aside from increasing the risk of heart diseases, sugar is also blamed for other major health concerns: cavities, weight gain, and empty calories something that nutritionists frown.

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