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Preventive Cardiology Clinic

Sugar and Heart Disease

Most people who have high cholesterol try to reduce fat in their diet to get their numbers back on track. Although that might seem logical it's actually not the approach that's needed. The problem for most of us is not too much fat but too much sugar.

Sugar is easily digestible and absorbed very quickly. If you have ever seen a young child eat candy and then rapidly become HYPERactive, you've witnessed the speed of sugar absorption. Inside our bodies that sugar rush is followed quickly by an insulin rush. Insulin is a storage hormone and pushes our body into storage mode. What's the storage form of cholesterol? LDL (bad) cholesterol. When insulin levels go up, LDL levels go up. What's the elimination form of cholesterol? HDL (good) cholesterol. When insulin levels go up, HDL levels go down. What's the storage form of sugar? Triglycerides. When insulin levels go up, triglyceride levels go up, often way up. So if you want a really bad cholesterol profile, eat a bunch of sugar.

So what about fruit? It turns out that the natural balance between the fiber, antioxidants, micronutrients and phytochemicals present in whole fruit has a different effect on our biochemistry. But we're talking about whole fruit, not fruit juice. Fruit juice has much of the fiber stripped out so it's not the same. You've probably never seen a child get hyperactive after eating an apple. But a big glass of apple juice? That's a different story.

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