Sugar is Dangerous for Your Heart

Updated at: May 17, 2014
Sugar is Dangerous for Your Heart

Researchers have uncovered evidence that sugar has a direct effect on risk factors for heart disease. It is likely to impact blood pressure and independent of weight gain.

Ariba Khaliq
LatestWritten by: Ariba KhaliqPublished at: May 17, 2014

Many-a-times you resolve to be good and healthy, watch what you eat, ditch sugar, only to ruin the whole thing with some crazy sweet binge. When sugar cravings begin to rule your life, you end up with problems like heart diseases, obesity, high blood pressure and several others.A new research has found that sugar can directly affect the risk factors like blood pressure and independent of weight gain that cause heart diseases.

sugar is dangerous for heartResearch Fellow with Otago’s Department of Human Nutrition Dr Lisa Te Morenga, Professor Jim Mann and colleagues ahve conducted a review and meta-analysis of all international studies that compared the effects of higher versus lower added sugar consumption on blood pressure and lipids. They located dietary intervention trials published in English-speaking journals between 1965 and 2013, comparing diets where the only intended differences were the amount of sugars and non-sugar carbohydrates consumed by the participants, and which measured the effects of these diets on lipids and blood pressure. They found 37 trials reporting effects on lipids and 12 reporting effects on blood pressure. The findings from the individual trials were then pooled to determine the overall effects from all the studies.

Experts Say:

"Our analysis confirmed that sugars contribute to cardiovascular risk, independent of the effect of sugars on body weight," says Dr Te Morenga.

"Although the effects of sugars on blood pressure and lipids are relatively modest, our findings support public health recommendations to reduce added sugar in our diets as one of the measures which might be expected to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular diseases."

Dr Te Morenga says previous research showed that there did not appear to be any special metabolic effect of sugars making people more likely to gain weight on high-sugar diets compared with low sugar diets when the total amount of carbohydrates and energy remains the same.

"However our latest study did find significant effects of sugars on lipids and blood pressure among these types of energy-controlled studies. This suggests that our bodies handle sugar differently to other types of carbohydrates."

"We were also relatively surprised that there was a positive association between sugars and cardiometabolic risk factors given that a large body of the research which met our inclusion criteria is funded by the food industry. This is because such trials are less likely to find a significant association between sugars and health outcomes.

"In subgroup analyses we showed that by excluding the trials funded by the food/sugar industry, we found larger effects of sugar on lipids and blood pressure."

She adds that the release of their findings online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is very timely as national and international organisations are considering recommendations on safe dietary sugar intakes.

"Our work provides further evidence to support these recommendations which have been disputed by the food industry," she says.

Previous Research

According to a previous research done in June 2013, by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, eating too much sugar can set people down a pathway to heart failure. The researchers said that a single molecule, the glucose metabolite glucose 6-phosphate (G6P) causes stress to the heart that changes the muscle proteins and induces poor pump function leading to heart failure. G6P can accumulate from eating too much starch and/or sugar. This resaerch was published in the Journal of American Heart Associattion.


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