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Category: Nutrition

Risk of Cardiovascular Death Sugar Graph

This One Food Choice Nearly Triples Risk for Cardiovascular Death

Earlier this month, the well-respected Journal of the American Medical Association published a report entitled: Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. The report describes the findings of national survey correlating dietary choices and risk for developing various diseases. In this report, the researchers focused specifically on determining how added sugar to the diet relates to risk of mortality from a cardiovascular event.

The findings were dramatic. There was a perfect correlation between the amount of added sugar to the diet and risk for death from a heart related event. When comparing the group whose dietary added sugar constituted less than 10% of calories to those whose sugar consumption exceeded 25% of daily calories, those consuming the most sugar had a risk of death from a cardiovascular event almost 3-fold higher!

Risk of Cardiovascular Death Sugar Graph

In summarizing the findings of this study that included more than 30,000 participants, the authors concluded, “Most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet. We observed a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risk for CVD mortality.”

These results are extremely impactful and correlate perfectly with the central thesis of Grain Brain as well as earlier publications describing increased risk for dementia in those individuals favoring a high carbohydrate diet.

One bit of encouraging news from the study is that it looks like people are finally embracing the message that sugar and carbs are indeed toxic to humans in so many ways. They actually demonstrated that the trend of ever increasing sugar consumption in America has finally been reversed.

Mean Percentage Daily Calories Sugar Graph

Way to go people!

  • Cathy Valenti

    That is good news, and I hope it’s not because they are using artificial sweeteners instead.

    • Charles Waller

      Go to the actual study details and you find HFCS is the most prevalent “added”sugar. Weak science, as in the study which collected cigarette butts from smokers to measure effects of inhaled “tobacco” smoke – most brands included contain a wide range of additives, many still unknown due to “proprietary” information the manufacturers have not been forced to reveal. The study then made a comparison between “light” and “burley” tobaccos, totally diregarding the presence of additives.

    • Charles Waller

      From the pdf file, the first part after the abstract & conclusions. “Consumption of added sugar, including all sugars added in processing or preparing foods, among Americans aged 2 years or older increased from an average of 235 calories per day in 1977-1978 to 318 calories per day in 1994-1996. This change was mainly attributed to the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.1” How many sweetened beverages do you find still using sugar? I avoid HFCS as much as possible, and have trouble finding any packaged beverages which do not use it – as well as most packaged, processed food products. The last ketchup in my local grocery without HFCS is no longer on the shelf, most bread makers use it and it is pervasive in food products of all types. No distinction appears to have made here between refined sugar from beets or cane and the cheaper, highly processed HFCS.

      • Gillian

        Getting away from sugar is quite easy. Just don’t buy processed foods! And eat organic. It’s worth the extra $$$ for your health.

        • Justin Cronk

          If you can afford it.

          • Charles Waller

            If it’s even available locally.

          • Rafael Archuleta

            Agreed – and all the more reason to promote the use of hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems at home.

        • Sandy J Clark

          getting away from sugar is actually very hard. I love candy, and cookies and where i work always free in the break room..sugar is in everything so a very hard habit to break. One can be addicted

  • Jackie

    Sounds perfect!

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  • ri

    what about bananas??? lately ive been trying to really avoid any kind of sugar starches and of course wheat but i love bananas once in a while? should i eat a whole one if im craving it and just make sure to include it in my daily carb allowance or is there too much sugar in it? should i only eat half -i went from only eating half to eating whole then half again-it seems silly because there are soo good for you but they are high in sugar especially when ripe.
    Today i also was debating between low fat and full fat cottage cheese for lunch- i know we need fats but i dont wanna get too much because thats just added calories and if your already eating salmon avocado and olive oil for lunch isnt that sufficient for fats then its best to go with the low fat dairy right?im trying to lose weight so i still want to be cognitive of calories can someone please clarify about these things for me! i get so confused sometimes 🙁

    • Justin Cronk

      Natural sugars are good for you.. they are essential, in fact. I wouldn’t cut out all sugar… I think its a bad Idea… You shouldn’t have to worry bout any kind of fruit….

      • gsmullennix

        Justin. What would be a “natural” sugar? One in an Apple or grape or banana? None of those fruits are anything like the original fruits. Hybridization by the ag industry has continued to increase the size and the amount of sugar. Any of those have people getting a very high load of high glycemic food. And I’d like to see your reference to support the idea that natural sugar is essential…other than from the sugar industry, the grain industry, etc.

    • Charles Waller

      I would be more concerned about where the salmon came from and what is in the dairy product than whether you eat a whole banana, two or a whole bunch. =)

      • Rosie

        Bananas, unless green, are pretty much anathema to diabetics. If yellow, I might eat a small one or 1/2 a larger, absolutely won’t touch one with freckles. Green just beginning to turn are not bad, esp if using in a smoothy.

    • David Perlmutter

      A typical banana has about 27grams of carbs, so I would opt for half and factor that into the daily carb count.

    • Sandy J Clark

      got to be careful with fruit even thou it is so called natural sugar. choose lower sugar fruits like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. cannot to wrong with the berries

      • Rosie

        Yes, it’s very easy to find glycemic index fact sheets and stick with the berries primarily. I found that apricots & nectarines (fresh, not dried) do not spike my blood sugar, so very happy in July & August when those fruits come on.

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  • Diane

    Dr Perlmutter, is there any evidence that the cardiovascular system can/will regenerate itself in the same way that the brain can … if diet is changed and exercise is put in place?

    • marthabriscoe

      i would like to read Dr Perlmutter’s reply to Diane’s queston on the cardiovascular system ability to change the same way the brain does

  • Diane Jones Newbury

    But why is sugar “toxic”. Is it because much of it comes from sugar beets, the majority of which are gmo? Or is that many of the people who consume too many sugar/carbs are obese? There needs to be more information in the graph/study. There are some other factors, here.

    • Cheryll

      One of the reasons sugar is toxic is because of the way the liver processes fructose (one of the molecules found in sugar). Examining the biochemistry of it, the excess fructose is processed in the same way as alcohol, and for that reason can lead to fatty liver. The time when there isn’t excess fructose after consuming sugar is when it is being used as fuel when exercising. You are right that the majority of sugar beets are GMO.

      • Justin Cronk

        Fructose is a type of sugar… not one of the molecules in sugar…

        • Cheryll

          You are correct that fructose is a type of sugars, but I’m referring to table sugar (from sugar cane and sugar beets) that is most commonly eaten (added to coffee and baked goods). It is a disaccharide, composed of 2 types of sugar molecules, glucose and fructose. As such, it is metabolized into its constituent molecules.

  • Linda Janelle

    I don’t drink soda’s or sweeten juices, try to avoid HFCS. I love my coffee in the a.m. and one in the afternoon. I can’t use artificial sweeteners or sugar because they are bad for us. Please, which one of the two evils is a little better for me/us? Splenda or Pure Cane Sugar? Other wise I’m following your program and wanting to reach the point where I feel a difference, it’s taking some time.

    • Denise Perez

      Linda, If you have a Keurig machine try the Macadamia Nut Cookie flavored coffee. It doesn’t have any sweeteners added… still zero calories and just try half and half. That way you get a little sweet flavor but no sugar or toxic sugar substitute and no carbs. It’s really good and it smells just like macadamia cookies. I don’t know how they captured it, but they did! And the hazelnut is good too. I still feel like it needs a little sweetening, but I’m trying very hard to give up sugar & substitutes all together. (But it’s much better than just plain coffee with cream)

      • Linda Janelle

        Thank you Denise, I do have the Keurig and will try the coffee’s you mention. I so appreciate your reply. It’s so darn hard giving up the delicious sweetness, lol. I think giving up wheat is easier! I asked my doctor of the two evils which one is worse, Spenda or sugar, he said Splenda! So I bought a small bad of organic pure cane sugar, guess I should give it away. I may have to give up coffee completely but first I’m going to try your suggestion.
        Again, thanks! 🙂

        • Denise Perez

          Linda, I agree… It’s tough giving up the little sweetness added to coffee. Giving up desserts and wheat products was much easier! I would keep the bag of sugar though and just use it as a weekend treat. Most Americans consume something like 150 pounds of sugar a year….You’re still way ahead of the curve. That bag should last you years!

          • Linda Janelle

            Should last for years, lol, I hope for a month. Thanks for the encouragement… GL on your journey also 🙂

        • Rafael Archuleta

          For a non-caffeine boost you can try roasted cacao seeds (a.k.a. “cocoa beans”) instead of coffee. The boost comes from theobromine. Probably best to roast & grind it yourself to reduce waste, but there are companies packaging it, e.g. Choffy. Instead of half & half, use coconut milk (easy to make at home w/masticating juicer or a food processor, with the bonus of having the remaining pulp to make coconut flour), & add a little raw honey to sweeten it. Yum. =)

    • Monica

      I could never drink coffee without a lot of sugar. Gradually I weaned myself off the sugar by gradually reducing the amount and telling my brain that I actually like the more bitter taste. Now I hate coffee with sugar. Believe me it is just a matter of gradual training. Good luck

  • Linda Janelle

    Thank you Monica, I’ve tried that and usually dump the cup of coffee down the drain, I just don’t like that dry bitter taste, that is why I can’t use stevia. I think I just have to give up coffee. I wake up in the morning going to straight to the coffee pot, I think I have to give it away …. just so hard, I love my coffee!

    • gsmullennix

      I happily add to my cup of needed coffee the Land O’Lakes whole cream whipped out of the aerosol can. 3 cans wrapped together at Costco at 1/2 the cost at Publix. Delicious.

    • Deb Lanfair

      I’ve heard the comment about stevia “being bitter” and for the life of me cannot figure out what people are talking about! Perhaps they are referring to powdered stevia. Try some English Toffee stevia in your coffee-it’s delicious.

    • Rosie

      I have no problem with the stevia “aftertaste” which has been likened to licorice by some. But not everyone loves black licorice. Consider trying to find a monkfruit/erythitol blend (also known as Lo Han). Another natural sweetener and very low in carbs (3 gms/teaspoon). You might have to order via internet or try one of the large brick & mortar supplement stores or a Natural Foods Co-op.

  • connie

    I’m brand new at this site, but I’m here because my daughter put Grain Brain on her coffee table with a note: “Mom, you’ve GOT to read this book!” We’ve both been more health conscious in the last few years because of a number of serious health issues we have addressed in ourselves and immediate family members(heart disease, type-2 diabetes, MS, to name the main ones). I just finished the book, and I loved it! But I have a question. My husband has diabetes, type 2, which he has controlled well for 3 years- since he was diagnosed. But one food that has been recommended to him, which he loves, is beans. He loves pintos and great northern, and I cook them in the crock pot. His blood sugar seems to do great with them. In fact, they seem to keep his numbers down. We always thought this was true because of the high content of protein in dried beans. Can anybody give me the reason the doctor does not recommend them more than a very small amount – a couple of times a week?

    • deb

      Simply stated, beans are very high in carb. We convert carbs to sugar.

    • Joe Texan

      I had type 2 diabetes 11 years ago and the hemotologist told me to cut all carbs from my diet. Within 3 months I no longer had diabetes. I took the test that can tell if your blood surgar was elevated anytime over the past three months every three months for two years and now once a year, and I have not tested positive for diabetes in ten years. But, I didn’t know until I read this book that they also cause brain damage so I started eating some carbs again. No more.

      • David Perlmutter

        This is a wonderful success story Joe. Thank you for sharing it, and thanks for contributing to this community.

    • Rosie

      Legumes are a great source of protein, fiber & the GOS (prebiotics for the happy gut bateria)…however, esp for diabetics, need to be used in very small portions (i.e. 1/4-1/2 cup per serving).

  • Joe Texan

    I live mostly in Colombia, South America, and they have hundreds of different tropical fruits. Many are not sweet, they are acidy, and require sweetner. Are those sort of fruits also high in carbs? One that is very plentiful if maracuyá (passion fruit) and they say it lowers blood pressure. Does anyone know if that is true? Also lulu is a fruit shaped like a foot long green vean, it has white pulp inside, and they say it is good for intestinal problems. A rare one is Boraho that grows in the Choco jungle. It is the size of a small grape fruit, hangs on the tree for a year, is solid black, and weighs as much as an equal size rock. It is too strong to eat, but just one makes about 10 gallons of fruit juice and it is not sweet. Is nutritional science studying stuff like these rare tropical fruits?

  • Michael Devirian
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