How Sugar Wreaks Havoc With Your Heart

There’s a new bad actor in the fight against heart disease—and its name is sugar. Ranking right up there with smoking and high blood pressure, eating a high-sugar diet is causing more heart attacks and more deaths from stroke.

Here’s the real kicker…

When it comes to a high sugar diet, even if you aren’t obese or diabetic, but you eat a lot of sugar, you still put yourself at an increased risk for heart attack.

Researchers aren’t 100% sure why a high-sugar diet leads to more deaths from stroke and heart disease—they think the way our bodies metabolize sugar damages blood vessels—but they say the culprit is the added sugar in sodas and processed foods not the naturally occurring sugar in fruits and vegetables.

Sneaky Sources

Sneaky sources of added sugar include salad dressings, pasta sauces, frozen vegetables with sauces, yogurt, and bread. Manufacturers often even add sugar to frozen fruit, which already contains its own sugar.

Recommended Daily Allowance of Sugar

The recommended daily allowance of sugar is 15% of a 2,000-calorie a day diet, which is the average caloric intake. That means 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men, and those sugar calories can add up quickly—two regular sodas at 9 teaspoons a piece gives a woman 3x the amount of sugar she should have in a day and 2x the amount for a man. So it’s critical to read labels. Once you get to know the amount of sugar in the foods you’re eating, it may be easier to resist sweet foods like cinnamon rolls, which have a whopping 13 teaspoons of sugar.


About the author

Dr. Stephanie Moore

Stephanie A. Moore, MD FACC, is a cardiologist in the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center. She is also Assistant Director for Quality Improvement for the Cardiology Division.