NOV 07, 2016 5:53 PM PST

Uncovered: The Link Between A Sugary Diet and Coronary Artery Disease

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Sucrose is a form of sugar that naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables, but the majority of the average American’s sucrose consumption comes from added sucrose present in the usual suspects: sweetened beverages, cakes, sweets, dairy, and bread. A new study from Sweden, where sucrose is the most common form of added sugar, provides some evidence that a diet high in added sugar puts an individual at a higher risk for coronary artery disease.
From Lund University, researchers analyzed data from a large population study called the Malmö Diet and Cancer Cohort Study. Participants of the study received regular health checks, provided lifestyle information, and maintained a food diary. With more than 26,000 participants involved with no known diabetes or cardiovascular disease researchers could draw conclusions about added sugar intake and coronary artery disease.

Their findings that showed a clear relationship between high added sugar consumption and myocardial infarction (heart attack) were only evident in a small group of people from the study. “Among the five percent of participants who got at least 15 per cent of their daily energy intake from sucrose, the risk of myocardial infarction increased by about a third,” explained Emily Sonestedt, nutrition researcher and associate professor at Lund University.

Many components can account for the development of heart disease, but the researchers did adjust their results for factors traditionally associated with cardiovascular disease: smoking, alcohol, and exercise habits. Also, dietary consumption was adjusted for foods seen as linked to cardiovascular risk: meat, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and coffee.

"In the study, we wanted to investigate whether a correlation could be found between even a small overconsumption of added sugar and coronary artery disease,” Sonestedt said. “In order to reflect reality as closely as possible, we focused on people's dietary intake as a whole and not only on selected foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Nutritional recommendations in Sweden suggest that no more than 10 percent of daily energy intake should come from added sugar, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest essentially the same. However, the study researchers don’t believe that the dietary recommendations should be changed. Instead, health officials might want to focus on targeting individuals who regularly consume more than ten percent of their daily caloric intake from added sugar to lower their risk of heart disease.

The present study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Sources: Lund University, NC Research Campus
Image: The Gazette Review
About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog:
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