Sugar is the Prime Cause of the Heart Disease Epidemic. Not fat

Sugar is a prime cause of heart attacks by changing the behaviour of the blood platelets, causing them to stick to the blood vessel wall. It can cause high blood pressure (which plays an important role in heart health), arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart palpitations, and ischaemic heart disease (which results in poor blood supply to the heart).

> In the late 1960s, John Yudkin, the then chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the now defunct Queen Elizabeth College in London, was disturbed by inconsistencies in the evidence linking animal fats to heart disease.

He began searching for another dietary cause. He found that sucrose increased blood levels of cholesterol, triglyceride, uric acid, insulin and the stress hormone cortisol. All of these substances are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

He also found that sucrose raised blood pressure and increased the fragility of blood platelet cells, making them more prone to clotting.

When Yudkin substituted refined fructose for sucrose in his experiments, the effects were magnified. He concluded that “excessive consumption of sugar, not fat, is the prime cause of the epidemic increase of heart disease in civilised countries”. (Source: The Ecologist, November 2003)

> In Iceland heart disease, like diabetes, was almost unheard of until the 1930s, although the Icelanders ate a diet very high in fat.

In the early 1920s, however, refined carbohydrates and sugar arrived in the Icelandic diet, and by the 1940s, heart disease had become increasingly common.

Likewise, the development of high heart-disease rates in mid 20th-century Yugoslavia and Poland occurred at a time when the sugar rate was quadrupling and the animal-fat intake falling in these countries. (Source: The Ecologist, November 2003)

In recent years, several studies have shown that excessive sugar intake raises blood sugar level, and this is implicated in heart disease risk. The following are 2 such studies.

> Lowering blood sugar levels could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in both diabetics and non-diabetics, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and other institutions.

The researchers found that Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) — a measure of long-term blood glucose level — predicts heart disease risk in both diabetics and non-diabetics.

“In persons with diabetes, we know that traditional cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, should be treated aggressively. Our results also suggest that improving blood-glucose control may further reduce heart disease risk,” said Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology in the US. [Source: Archives of Internal Medicine (12 September 2005)]

> Several years earlier, another study led by Professor of Clinical Gerontology at the University of Cambridge, Kay-Tee Khaw and her colleagues had similarly found a link between blood sugar levels and heart disease.

The team followed 10,030 men and women between ages 45-79 living in Norfolk who had glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) measured in 1993-1997.

While HbA1c readings below 7% are considered “normal”, the team found that study participants with readings of 5% or more had increased risk of heart disease.

More improtantly, the team found that for each point above 5, the risk of heart disease increased by 20%, even with blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, smoking and previous heart attacks or strokes taken into account.

Those with concentrations less than 5% had the lowest rates of heart disease and death.
Most of the subjects involved measured above 5 despite most of them not having diabetes or considered to have high blood sugar.

> In humans, there is one report that high dietary sugar intake enhances the risk of coronary heart disease in diabetic individuals who use diuretics (Source: “Metabolism of sugars and physical performance” by Sherman WM, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995).

To compound the risk, processed foods (now a large part of the modern diet), which are high in sugar, displace from the diet fruit and vegetables, which contain essential nutrients that help to prevent heart and circulation disease.

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