After Years of Blaming Fats, Is Sugar To Blame for Rising Heart Disease?

rising heart disease

Rising Heart Disease and Rising Profits

For years, the West blamed rising heart disease on eating too much fat, creating an entire industry of ‘low fat’ products, promoted for heart health.  ‘Low fat’ proved good for business.  Unfortunately, it didn’t solve the heart health issue.  A study in 2019 shows heart attacks in people under age 40 have been increasing over the past decade.

Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. Of these, 605,000 are a first heart attack.

Despite the rates, the ‘diet’ industry is big business and rapid adoption of ‘low fat’ products is soaring, with the market set to surpass US$ 3.5 Bn by 2031 – so why, if low fat products are the answer, are heart attack rates still rising?

Excessive Sugar and Heart Health

There is a growing body of research suggesting that excessive sugar consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.  For example, a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that individuals who consumed more than 21% of their daily calories from added sugars had double the risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who consumed less than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars.

Not all sugars are equal: could rising Heart Disease be tacked with different sugars?

Some types of sugars have been linked to rising heart disease because they pose a higher risk of heart problems than others.

For example, high fructose corn syrup, which is commonly added to processed foods, has been linked to a range of negative health outcomes, including an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.  A meta-analysis of clinical trials published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that fructose intake was associated with higher blood pressure, higher triglycerides, and a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Similarly. a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that consuming high levels of fructose was associated with an increased risk of hypertension, insulin resistance, and other risk factors for heart disease.

However, there is a danger that instead of encouraging healthier diets, just as we did with fat substitutes, big food manufacturers will seek to push solutions to these challenges with sugar substitutes rather than actually tell patients they literally can’t have their cake and eat it!

Better Outcomes for Heart Patients

Diet however isn’t the only issue for heart health.  While heart attacks remain a killer, and massive heart attack survival rates are low, the survival rate largely depends on where the heart attack occurs – and we can prevent rising Heart Disease from translating into a spiral of rising deaths – thankfully, we are already seeing improvements in survival rates.

Survival after heart attacks in hospital care is between 90% to 97%²  in the USA.

However, the heart attack happens in the street, there is much that can be done simply by improving access to defibrillators.   If a cardiac arrest victim is shocked with a defibrillator within the first minute of collapse, the chances for survival are close to 90% – therefore, widespread access to defibrillators is essential to improve survival rates.

It’s also important to note that advancements in medical technology and treatments have helped to reduce the mortality rate of heart attacks over time. This includes the use of medications, such as aspirin and beta-blockers, and the development of surgical procedures like angioplasty and coronary artery bypass grafting.

Despite these advancements, heart disease remains a leading cause of death worldwide, and efforts to prevent and manage the condition through healthy lifestyle choices and medical interventions are critical.

What diet will help?

While the ‘low fat food industry’, which largely replaces fats with carbs, would have you believe that processed low fat foods are what you need, It’s interesting to note that the companies producing ‘low fat foods’ are the same producers making unhealthy food!

Dieticians, who don’t have a vested interest in selling you their products, don’t recommend processed foods, in fact for both weight loss and heart health, most professionals recommend a balanced diet that includes plenty of whole, unprocessed foods.  This might include lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, getting back in touch with real, natural food.  Meat and animal products are an importance source of B12, but we don’t need anywhere near as much as we currently consume to be healthy.

However drinks are just as important as food, and we should aim to stay hydrated and limit consumption of sugary drinks, including soda and fruit juice – ‘sugar free’ should not be seen as a licence to consume gallons of the beverage.

Likewise, fruit juices are not nearly so healthy as eating the whole fruit, which slows absorption of the natural sugars they contain.

Water is free, is needed by the body and helps the kidneys flush out toxins.  Engaging in regular physical activity can also be helpful for weight loss and overall health.

Losing weight can reduce the strain on the body, but it isn’t the only indicator of heart health.  It’s all about nutrition, not volume of food or so-called ‘healthy foods’ that are anything but.

Overall, the best approach to heart health, to weight loss and to a healthy immune system is to work with a healthcare professional or a registered dietician who will develop a personalized plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals.

 


 

References:

  1. Stanhope, K. L., Schwarz, J. M., Keim, N. L., Griffen, S. C., Bremer, A. A., Graham, J. L., … & Havel, P. J. (2009). Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 119(5), 1322-1334.
  2. Wang, D. D., Sievenpiper, J. L., de Souza, R. J., Chiavaroli, L., Ha, V., Cozma, A. I., … & Beyene, J. (2014). The effects of fructose intake on serum uric acid vary among controlled dietary trials. The Journal of nutrition, 144(6), 875-883.
  3. Kelishadi, R., Mansourian, M., Heidari-Beni, M., & Association, T. A. D. (2014). Association of fructose consumption and components of metabolic syndrome: review of recent evidence. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 19(3), 195-202.
  4. Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E. W., Flanders, W. D., Merritt, R., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA internal medicine, 174(4), 516-524.
  5. Singh, G. M., Micha, R., Khatibzadeh, S., Lim, S., Ezzati, M., & Mozaffarian, D. (2015). Estimated global, regional, and national disease burdens related to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in 2010. Circulation, 132(8), 639-666.
  6. Malik, V. S., Hu, F. B. (2015). Sugar-sweetened beverages and cardiovascular disease: an update of the literature. Nutrients, 7(6), 5031-5050.
  7. Wang, H., Steffen, L. M., Zhou, X., Harnack, L., Luepker, R. V. (2016). Consistency between increasing trends in added-sugar intake and body mass index among adults: the Minnesota Heart Survey, 1980-1982 to 2007-2009. American Journal of Public Health, 106(5), 888-894.
About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4429 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.