High-Sugar Diets Increase Heart Disease Risk

A new study from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that in only three months on a high-sugar diet, even healthy people had an increased risk of heart disease. The research points to the way the fat metabolism is altered during the diet. The liver deals with fat much different in a high-sugar diet versus a low-sugar diet.

NAFLD Increases Heart Disease Risk

The study showcased the similarities between men’s fat metabolism during a high-sugar diet and those suffering from a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is a condition that develops when fat builds up in the liver.

“Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amouts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.” – Bruce Griffen, Professor of Nutritional Metabolism

Around 92.1 million adults in the United States are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of a stroke. Their evidence suggests that NAFLD can significantly raise the risk of heart disease adults and children.

Fat Metabolism Changes

heart disease sugar diet fat metabolism NAFLD


In the study, men with NAFLD and healthy men were fed one of two different diets, a high-sugar diet or a low-sugar diet. The diets had the same amount of calories, but in the high-sugar, 26% of calories were coming from sugar versus 6% in the low sugar diet.


The research was designed as a “randomized cross over” meaning that each participant followed the first diet for 12 weeks then the other diet for 12 weeks in no particular order. Researchers compared multiple biomarkers of fat metabolism like lipids and cholesterol in the blood to determine the results. They found that after 12 weeks on the high-sugar diet, both healthy men and NAFLD men both had increased amounts of fat in the liver that resemble a fat metabolism known to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease.


However, the researchers note that most people will probably not consume that much sugar regularly. They did say that some children and teenagers may be reaching that level through candy and sugar-sweetened drinks.


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