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High Dietary Intake of Added Sugars Elevates Coronary Heart Disease

High Dietary Intake of Added Sugars Elevates Coronary Heart Disease

Dietary Sugar and Coronary Heart Disease Risk

In the realm of dietary research, the influence of carbohydrate consumption on coronary heart disease risk is a topic of paramount importance. Recent studies have unearthed a pivotal revelation: the type of carbohydrates we ingest carries more weight in fostering coronary heart disease risk than the sheer quantity of carbohydrates consumed.

Empirical evidence has established a disconcerting connection between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and an escalated risk of coronary heart disease. Moreover, the Western diet is rife with copious amounts of sugars and starches, known for their potent impact on blood glucose levels, far exceeding the benign nature of natural sugars found in fruits.

It is noteworthy that different sugars undergo distinct metabolic pathways within the body. Most di- and polysaccharides are broken down into their elemental monosaccharides, typically glucose and fructose. These two sugars tread separate metabolic paths.

Fructose, owing to its unique ability to circumvent numerous regulatory steps in glycolysis, has been implicated in the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), leading to elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and postprandial triglycerides. In contrast, glucose does not seem to exert similar effects on LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, though evidence from prospective cohort studies remains scarce.

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Study Overview

The focal point of this investigation was to scrutinize the disparate effects of various dietary sugars, particularly glucose and fructose, on the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Dietary sugars, in this context, refer to carbohydrate sources rapidly broken down into monosaccharides, encompassing the cumulative impact of total fructose and total glucose from various dietary sugar sources.

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The study hinged on baseline data from participants enrolled in two distinct prospective cohorts. These participants had completed semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires, followed by subsequent questionnaires every two to four years to capture lifestyle changes, dietary habits, medical histories, and any new disease diagnoses.

Participants with a prior history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, or implausible energy intake reports based on gender were excluded from the dataset. The dietary assessment involved detailed extraction of information on food and beverage consumption from questionnaire responses, subsequently used to compute daily nutrient intakes and total fructose and glucose equivalents.

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Total fructose equivalents accounted for fructose derived from monosaccharides, sucrose, and sources such as whole vegetables, fruits, and fruit juices. Total glucose equivalents incorporated monosaccharide glucose and starch, along with sucrose, lactose, and maltose.

As endpoints for coronary heart disease risk assessment, the study considered non-fatal myocardial infarctions and coronary heart disease-related fatalities. The analyses factored in covariates such as body mass index, smoking habits, hypercholesterolemia or hypertension incidence, menopausal status, alcohol consumption, and physical activity levels.

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The findings unveiled a critical relationship between the consumption of total sugar, total glucose equivalents, and fructose sourced from juice and added sugars, with an augmented risk of coronary heart disease. However, total fructose equivalents derived from whole vegetables, fruits, lactose, and sucrose did not exhibit a significant association with an elevated coronary heart disease risk.

It is the researchers’ contention that substituting total fat with total glucose and fructose equivalents from juice and added sugars in an isocaloric manner is the crux of the problem, driving the heightened risk of coronary heart disease. The study underpins earlier research, highlighting the significance of carbohydrate quality, rather than quantity, in fueling the risk of coronary heart disease, with added sugar and starch playing pivotal roles in this regard.

Furthermore, while meta-analyses of prospective cohorts have previously reported a substantial correlation between glycemic load, glycemic index, and an elevated risk of coronary heart disease, the association between starch consumption and coronary heart disease risk has been shrouded in ambiguity. The present study provides clarity by unequivocally linking starch intake to coronary heart disease risk, emphasizing the importance of considering the cumulative impact of dietary glucose from all sources, encompassing sucrose and starch when assessing coronary heart disease risk.


In sum, this study conclusively establishes that the intake of total glucose and fructose equivalents from dietary components containing added sugar significantly elevates the risk of coronary heart disease. On the flip side, the consumption of fructose from natural sources, like fruits and vegetables, does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.