The American Journal of Medicine (JAMA) recently published the results of a study relating the effect of added sugars in our diet and dyslipidemia. Dyslipidemia is a known risk factor for developing heart disease and is a combination of three lipid measures: triglyceride levels, LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Dyslipidemia occurs when a person has higher than normal levels of triglycerides and LDL and lower HDL levels. This study was the first study to specifically examine the effect that added sugars in our diet have on these lipid levels.
Most foods have a certain amount of naturally occurring sugars. However, as the name implies, added sugars are not naturally occurring. Added sugars are sweeteners which have been added by the food manufacturers and producers of processed or prepared foods.
This practice did not begin until the mid-1800s and consumption of added sugars has been on the rise ever since. In 1977-78, added sugars comprised 10.6 percent of the calories consumed each day. Today, the numbers of added sugars consumed daily has risen to almost 16 percent, or one-sixth of our total daily dietary intake! Added sugars also account for 30.7 percent of the total amount of carbohydrates that you consume daily. These added sugars are low-calorie nutrients and have little nutrient value.
The most common added sugars used today include: refined beet sugar, refined cane sugar and fructose (high-fructose corn syrup). Understanding the role added sugars play in the development of heart disease is important because you can control the amount of added sugar you consume.
In order to examine how added sugars impact limpid levels, researchers worked with study participants who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2006. The NHANES is an ongoing survey in the United States which is specifically designed to gather information on dietary habits and impacts on our health. All study participations were over the age of 18 years of age. The NHANES 1999-2006 survey consisted of 8,495 persons.