Excess Sugar Is Bad for Heart

For most of us, when we think about dietary heart health risks, our minds immediately jump to fried foods and unhealthy fats. While that certainly isn’t wrong, most of us don’t think of refined sugars and simple carbs. Sugar has a more significant impact on heart health that you think. The good news is, if you were already looking for motivation to cut sugar from your diet, this find might help give you an extra incentive.

Complex carbs like fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes break down slowly, not causing blood sugar spikes. In contrast, refined sugar and processed carbohydrates can boost your blood sugar rapidly and dramatically. High sugar and insulin levels can put you at a higher risk for heart disease. A Harvard study that ran for 15 years so that people who had sugar make up 17-21 percent of their diet had a 38 percent higher risk of death from heart disease than people who ate eight percent of their calories from refined sugar and simple carbs.

The researchers found this to be true across the board — even people who weren’t overweight were at risk if they ate excessive sugar. This may be surprising to some folks, as we often equate health to our weight. The risk was seen regardless of gender, age, BMI, Healthy Eating Index score or fitness level. The reason, the researchers think, that the relationship between high amounts of sugar and heart disease remains constant regardless of other factors is that sugar causes high blood pressure and makes the liver flood the bloodstream with fat

It’s also possible that, when a high percent of your calories come from sugar, you can’t eat enough fiber or other nutrients that can bolster heart health. Our bodies need a balance of nutrients to remain healthy. Forgoing one category to eat more of another could be detrimental — even if it weren’t sugar! That’s why a healthy diet is one that is more inclusive instead of restrictive.

Other research has shown how sugar can contribute to inflammation — a risk factor for heart disease. Inflammation causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells. The good news is, sugar’s detrimental impact on the immune system can be halted by giving up sugar.

In the end, a balanced diet is best for health. You should speak to your doctor about what a heart-healthy plan would be for your specific needs would be. Generally, a plate with a lot of different colored foods is best — as long as the colors aren’t on M&M shells!
October 18, 2019
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