Sugar and Heart Disease

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Sugar and Heart Disease

Article from April 25, 2014 by Andrew Foehrkolb

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Feb.2014) evaluated the possible link between added sugar consumption and death from heart disease. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study was evaluated over a 16 year period involving nearly 31,000 adult men and women. The study concluded that most U.S. adults consume more sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet. The data also supported a relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

How much added sugar should we consume? The American Heart Association recommends that the total daily intake from added sugar should be less than 100 calories for a woman and less than 150 calories for a man. To put this into perspective, a 12oz can of your favorite soda contains 140 calories and 35grams of sugar. When was the last time you saw someone drink only 12oz’s of soda? Think Big Gulp and free soda refills! Additional sources of added sugar can be found in cakes, cookies, granola bars, cereal, bagels, fruit drinks, and candy. The study did not evaluate sugars naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables, only added sugars.

What’s the connection between sugar and heart disease? Excessive sugar consumption and an overall increase of total calories increases the risk of unhealthy outcomes, such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardio vascular disease. The biological mechanisms underlying the association between added sugar intake and cardio vascular disease risk are not completely understood. There is some evidence that supports the idea that eating too much sugar might play a role in the development of high blood pressure and increased triglyceride (fat) blood levels, decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein, and increased low-density lipoprotein levels. These are all known risk factors associated with cardio vascular disease.

What should I do with this information? To start, be aware of the amount of added sugar you are eating. The best way I have found to do this is by maintaining a food diary. The diary can be as simple as manually writing in a journal everything you eat daily or using a web tool such as myfitnesspal. Once we understand how much sugar we are eating and what foods contain the highest concentrations in our diets we can more effectively manage this part of our diet. Knowledge and awareness is a powerful tool.

If you would like to discuss this study with me please contact me at: Visit my website for other health and fitness related information.


Drew Foehrkolb MS NASM CPT/CES

Yang,Q., Zhang, Z., Greeg,E., Flanders, D., Merritt,R., Hu,F., Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality Amoung US Adults, JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563

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