A surfeit of sugar can add to the risk of heart disease, either directly or indirectly. A diet high in sugar content can result in chronic inflammation, thus stressing the heart and damaging blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart. Diabetics are also more prone to developing allied conditions that elevate the risk for heart disease. Adults with diabetes are almost twice as susceptible to heart disease or stroke compared to healthy adults.
Heart disease risk from sugar
Research has revealed that those who consume large quantities of added sugars, run a higher risk of death from heart disease compared to people who have a less sweet diet. Some of the common factors linked to excess sugar intake are:
# Obesity: A high-sugar diet often leads to obesity, which in turn increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol levels — all deemed major risk factors for developing heart disease.
# Triglycerides: Extra calories in our body are stored as triglycerides, which is a kind of fat.A diet high in sugarcan increase triglycerides count, thus raising the risk of heart disease.
# LDL cholesterol: This is the “bad cholesterol” which causes plaque that clogs and damages blood vessels and the heart. Obesity caused by high-sugar diets are known to spike LDL cholesterol levels.
# Hypertension: Weight gain from a high-sugar diet can also contribute to high blood pressure or hypertension, another key risk factor for heart disease.
# Inflammation: Sugar is often the trigger for inflammation throughout the body. Such chronic inflammation stresses the heart and blood vessels and elevates heart disease risk.
Stick to natural sugars
When there is a large quantum of added or refined sugars intake, the body releases more insulin, putting you at greater risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease. These added sugars, known as simple carbohydrates, are broken down quickly in the body, leading to a spike in blood sugar.
So doctors and dieticians recommend natural sugars found in foods like milk, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates, instead of the dangerous added sugars like table sugar which we add to our tea or coffee, syrups or honey, sweetened sodas, yogurt, ice-creams, biscuits and many other processed foods.
The trick is often to find substitutes to added sugar in the form of natural sweeteners, like adding fruits to your yogurt or cereal instead of sugar. A slow cut-back and finding healthy substitutes is not that difficult and is good for heart health. These healthy foods, besides helping regulate blood sugar, are also high in dietary fibre that helps remove cholesterol from the blood stream.
Diabetes and the heart
# Doctors say diabetics are more likely to have heart failure, a critical condition in which the heart can’t pump blood well but hasn’t stopped beating. Heart failure can cause swelling in the legs and fluid build-up in the lungs, leading to respiratory distress.
# According to a new study, elevated blood sugar levels can also raise the risk of complications in heart attack patients.
# Recent research has also revealed that high blood glucose count triggers stronger contraction of blood vessels, blaming a newly discovered protein as the culprit. Such unusual contraction patterns could lead to a spike in blood pressure and hamper blood flow through vital organs. Regular health checks can help you detect and minimize the risk of complications arising from high blood sugar. If you are a diabetic, or have a family history of diabetes, talk to your doctor about your risk factors, diet and exercise routines. A balanced diet is not just to do with your sugar intake, a nutritionist is the best person to guide you on developing a healthy diet.
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