Sugar and Risk of Heart Attacks

Sugar and the Risk of Premature Death

Is your sugar intake killing you? Perhaps. A new study looking at sugar intake found that people who consume twenty-five percent or more of their calories from sugar are far more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than people who consume less than ten percent of their calories from sugar. The risk from premature death increases by over thirty percent. Nobody wants to die prematurely. The study looked at data collected over a fifteen year period with over ll,000 subjects.

We already know that excess sugar leads to obesity, insulin resistance and hypertension. So in a certain respect, the study confirms what we already knew. However, the increased risk between the lowest sugar consumers and the highest ones, was much larger than expected. If you are already at risk for cardiovascular disease, the new study should be a wakeup call that your dining habits are adding to your risk of a heart attack.

Where does Sugar Lurk?

Sugars are found naturally from fruits and vegetables. You cannot and should not avoid the sugars found in their natural habitat. However, sugar is added to everything. It is in sodas and juices. (Yes, juice has as much or more sugar than a soda.) It is in canned foods and ketchups. It is in cereals, breads, and sweetened yogurts. It is probably hiding underneath your bed.

How to Decrease Sugar Intake

If you want to eat less than ten percent of you calories in sugar, you will need to limit the sugars to thirty-five to sixty grams a day. If you want to limit your sugar intake, here are three things you can do.

  1. Read Labels. If you see high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, corn sweetener, cane juice, brown sugar, beet sugar or a host of other names on labels you can find here, you are ingesting sugar. Scan the labels at the grocery and find alternatives that don’t add sugar.
  2. Limit Sugary Drinks. Sodas and fruit juices are loaded with sugar. A twelve ounce soda can has forty or more grams of sugar. That is your daily limit of sugar. A twelve ounce glass of orange juice has thirty grams. Fruit drinks with added sweeteners will have even more. Finally, straight coffee does not have any sugar. But your vanilla latte has thirty-five grams of sugar. Limit or avoid sugary drinks if you want to decrease your sugar intake.
  3. Eat Fruit For Dessert. If you must eat dessert, and most of us must eat it, try to eat whole fruit desserts that don’t have added sugar. The fiber found in whole fruits will help process the sugar. You will also get the benefit of the nutrients found in fruits.

Eat your sugar as whole fruit and vegetables. Read labels for added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. And limit sugary drinks. Your heart will thank you for it.


Quanhe Yang, PhD Zefeng Zhang, MD, PhD; et al., Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults JAMA Intern Med. Published online February 03, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563

Posted in: