Sugar & Health

Heart Health & Sugar

Understand the facts about sugar and heart disease.

Heart disease, the single largest cause of mortality in the U.S. and worldwide, has many underlying risk factors.

These factors include:

  • Dyslipidemia (elevated cholesterol or fats in the blood)
  • High blood pressure
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cigarette smoking

Nutritional patterns may play a role in several of these risk factors; however, scientists have heavily debated and not fully settled whether there’s evidence for a specific role of carbohydrates or sugars in cardiovascular disease (CVD). If there’s any role of carbohydrates and sugars in the progression of CVD, it’s likely dependent on whether they’re consumed as part of a calorically abundant diet and eaten in excess of normal ranges.1,2

Recent reviews have found that when calories are matched, fructose-containing sugars (like sucrose) do not appear to cause weight gain or affect blood pressure when compared with other forms of macronutrients (other carbohydrates, fats and protein);3,4 however, when sugars provide excess calories, this can lead to weight gain and increases in cardiometabolic risk factors.4


  1. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Carbohydrates and Health. UK: The Stationery Office Limited; 2015:2.
  2. Rippe JM, Angelopoulos TJ. Fructose-Containing Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease. Advances in Nutrition. 2015;6:430-9.
  3. Khan TA, Sievenpiper JL. Controversies about sugars: results from systematic reviews and meta-analyses on obesity, cardiometabolic disease and diabetes. European Journal of Nutrition. 2016;55(Suppl 2):S25-S43.
  4. Fattore E, Botta F, Agostoni C, Bosetti C. Effects of free sugars on blood pressure and lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of nutritional isoenergetic intervention trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017;105(1):42-56.
Sugar & Health
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