High-sugar diets raise heart disease risk


A groundbreaking study has found that just 3 months on a high-sugar diet alters fat metabolism in such a way that it may cause even healthy people to raise their risk of heart disease.
The study suggests that the liver deals with fat differently on a high-sugar diet than it does on a low-sugar diet.
The researchers, led by a team from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, describe their findings in the journal Clinical Science.
They report how otherwise healthy men had higher levels of fat in their blood and liver after consuming a high-sugar diet for 12 weeks.
They also found that the men’s fat metabolism bore similarities to that of people who have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that develops when fat builds up in the liver.
“Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease,” comments Bruce Griffin, a professor of nutritional metabolism at the University of Surrey.
Estimates suggest that NAFLD affects 30 to 40 percent of adults in the United States. It is more common in people who have obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Although NAFLD most often develops in adults, there is evidence to suggest that it affects nearly 10 percent of children in the U.S. aged between 2 and 19.
There is also evidence to suggest that NAFLD can increase people’s risk of cardiovascular disease, which is also known as heart and blood vessel disease or simply heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is mainly associated with atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when a fatty deposit called plaque builds up in the linings of blood vessels and restricts blood flow. This can lead to a blood clot that blocks the vessel, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
Around 92.1 million adults in the U.S. have “some form of cardiovascular disease” or are living with the after-effects of stroke.
In the new study, 11 men with NAFLD and 14 healthy men were fed one of two diets, a high-sugar diet or a low-sugar diet, for 12 weeks. Both had the same amount of daily calories, except that in the high-sugar diet, sugar accounted for 26 percent of total calories, whereas in the low-sugar diet it accounted for 6 percent.
The study was designed as a “randomized cross-over,” which means that each participant followed first one diet and then the other, and that the order in which they followed them was randomly assigned.

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