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Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease?

a woman holding an apple

Believe it or not, sugar is in just about everything you eat nowadays- and that leaves many wondering “does sugar cause heart disease?” Simply put, sugar is a carbohydrate. There are many different types of specialty sugars, such as those for baking, cooking, decorating, and other specific purposes. But all of them are basically different forms of glucose, a substance that occurs naturally in plants and fruits.

There is a well-rooted myth that refined sugar — he kind you keep in your sugar bowl — is the worst type, and that there is something inherently better about raw sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, and others.

But it’s not all true. Your body treats sugar as sugar. And all sugar is a source of empty calories.

The best that can be said for those other forms of sugar is that you can safely use them in smaller amounts. So if you want something sweet, they are better than refined sugar. But watch your portions.

When it comes to your heart, sugar causes harm in three major ways:

  1. Inflammation
  2. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to harmful stimuli. Its purpose is to remove pathogens, irritants, and damaged cells in order to promote healing. For instance, when you cut your finger, the area around it becomes red and inflamed. This is part of the healing process, and evidence of your body’s natural defense system at work. This is good inflammation.

    However, some inflammation is bad, particularly chronic inflammation, the type that is increasingly recognized as the driver of cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke.

    Sugar fuels chronic inflammation. Eating too much sugar increases your body’s levels of a type of chemical messenger called cytokines, which trigger this dangerous inflammatory response.

  3. Diabetes
  4. Some 29 million Americans, or 9 percent of the population, have diabetes — yet millions of them remain unaware of it. In addition, millions of other Americans have insulin resistance (also referred to as prediabetes), a condition in which the body’s cells do not effectively utilize the hormone insulin, leading to high blood sugar. People in this category almost invariably develop full-blown diabetes.

    So if you’re told you are insulin resistant, you have to treat that diagnosis just as seriously as you would diabetes. Although it’s tempting to assume that eating too much sugar automatically translates into diabetes, that isn’t actually the case. Genetics can be involved, as can the overconsumption of carbohydrates and fats.
    But sugar is definitely a contributing factor, which leads to obesity in many people. In fact, most people who have diabetes are also overweight, and losing weight helps reduce the risk of this metabolic disorder.

  5. Heart Disease
  6. Sugar’s dangers go well beyond diabetes. It is now seen as a leading factor in the development of the cholesterol condition known as “dyslipidemia.” People with this condition have a particularly unhealthy blood lipid profile in which triglycerides are high and HDL cholesterol, the so-called “good” cholesterol, is low.

    Recent studies have found that lipid ratio can contribute to several health problems, especially stroke.

Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease?

Next time you ask yourself “does sugar cause heart disease?” it is a safe bet to say that it more than likely does.

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