More Evidence That Sugar is the Major Toxin in our Diets

A can of Coke (12 fl ounces/355 ml) has 39 grams of carbohydrates (all from sugar, approximately 10 teaspoons),[47] 50 mg of sodium, 0 grams fat, 0 grams potassium, and 140 calories. Image courtesy of Gwyneth Pearson who likely consumed it
A can of Coke (12 fl ounces/355 ml) has 39 grams of carbohydrates (all from high fructose corn syrup, equivalent to approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar), 50 mg of sodium, 0 grams fat, 0 grams potassium, and 140 calories. Image courtesy of Gwyneth P, who likely consumed it (the beverage in the can, that is, not the image)
The skeptical cardiologist had to temporarily interrupt his scintillating research into Canola Oil and the Mediterranean diet in order to highlight a study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Society that adds further evidence to the paradigm that sugar is not just causing obesity but is actually killing us.
In a previous post on low-fat yogurt I emphasized that a great pseudo-scientific scam had been foisted on Americans, the promotion of low fat substitutes for real food. The low-fat substitutes masquerade as more heart healthy because saturated fat has been removed but they are actually less healthy because sugar or high fructose corn syrup has been added. Substantial evidence indicates that consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates are contributing to obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD), not the unjustly demonized  saturated fats. Now there is evidence to suggest sugar is actually directly promoting heart disease.
In the article, the authors analyzed data from subjects who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They estimated the “usual percentage of calories from added sugar” for individuals.
Added sugar “includes all sugars used in processed or prepared foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, candy, ready-to-eat cereals and yeast breads, but not naturally occurring sugar, such as in fruits and fruit juices.”
Among the 11733 participants there were 831 CVD deaths with a median follow up of 14.6 years.
Those who consumed 25% or more of calories from added sugar were 2.75 times more likely to die than those who consumed less than 10% of calories from added sugar. The risk of CVD mortality increased exponentially with increased  percentage of calories from added sugar.
Major sources of added sugar in American adults diet included sugar-sweetened beverages (37%), grain-based desserts (14%), dairy desserts (6%) and candy (6%). One 360-ml can of regular soda contains about 35 g of sugar (140 calories) or 7% of total calories.
The authors discussed emerging evidence suggesting multiple pathways by which sugar might play a role, including promoting hypertension, increased de novo lipogenesis in the liver (resulting in high triglycerides) and promoting inflammation.
My first dietary recommendation to my patients is to cut out the added sugar. This is both for weight management and lower heart attack risk. The low-fat,  processed “food-like substances” you have been choosing are far worse for you than the unprocessed high fat food they replaces.


7 thoughts on “More Evidence That Sugar is the Major Toxin in our Diets”

  1. Reblogged this on Oil-Change Diet and commented:
    Our bodies turn sugar and excess calories from carbs into saturated fat and cholesterol that ends up clogging our arteries. It is not dietary fat and cholesterol that causes the problem in the first place it is the inflammation promoted by the oxygen radicals we create when we burn glucose and the inflammatory omega-6 fats that are so high in processed foods and the typical western diet. When we burn fat for energy (as a ketone) we do not create free radicals. I believe we should get most of our carbs fro whole fruits and veggies–these at least come with anti-oxidants that help prevent damage from the free radicals when we burn the carbs.

  2. I know I”m late, but was the difference in % of sugar the only factor in play? Meaning did they account for the fact that individuals who get a higher % of calories from sugar might be less likely to exercise and more likely to have an overall higher caloric intake?

    • The authors of this study tried to adjust for the confounding factors you mention. They stated that “These findings were largely consistent across age group, sex, race/ethnicity (except among non-Hispanic blacks), educational attainment, physical activity, health eating index, and body mass index”. Higher caloric intake was not a significant risk factor. Like all observational studies, however, there could be confounding factors that cluster with high added sugar consumption that were not measured.

  3. Yes, avoiding added sugar has to be a first priority. But a smart person also watches the amount of saturated fats in their diet and tries to have a variety of healthy fats.

    • A smart person would first research the harm saturated fats can cause and would conclude, none. None at all. They are essential, carry vitamins etc. Sugar is evil as are refined carbs.
      As for the comment that blah blah blah are worse for use than the food containing saturated fat…
      This also is a defective sentence. The food containing saturated fat (if it’s proper food, not stuff with trans-fats etc as well) is not harmful at all. As proof of that, I give you the French paradox. In Gascony the eat huge amounts of saturated fats and have almost no heart disease (half the French average). So now.

      • Yes, I hear that saturated fats aren’t as bad as they were once made out to be. But I can’t afford a very high calorie count and maintain a healthy weight. So I like to reserve my fat calories for fats with high omega-3 fatty acids that feed the brain. I also like to use coconut oil with its unique fat profile. I only meant to suggest that fat chemistry is a complex subject and that sugars are indeed something to restrict. I’m going to have a look at some of this amazing array of info you have posted here!

        • Regarding “But I can’t afford a very high calorie count and maintain a healthy weight.”
          See what I’ve written about fat not making you fat including


Please leave your comments. The skeptical cardiologist loves feedback. He reads all and replies to all that warrant a reply.