Tag Archives: heart disease risk



Christina Shay, PhD of the University of Oklahoma, and her team of researchers studied the data on 4,166 adults, ages 45 to 84, who were initially free of cardiovascular disease.

Over a period of five years, women who drank two or more sugary drinks daily were more likely to increase waist size and gain weight.  They were also more likely to develop high triglyceride levels and impaired fasting glucose than women who consumed less than one sugary drink per day.

Unhealthy changes in heart-disease risk factors were observed, regardless of changes in weight.  Not all women whose waist size increased were gaining weight.

Shay said, “Most people assume that individuals who consume a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks have an increase in obesity, which in turn, increases their risk for heart disease and diabetes.  While this does occur, this study showed that risk factors for heart disease and stroke developed even when we accounted for whether or not the women gained weight.”

The same results weren’t seen in men drinking sweetened beverages.  “Women exhibit lower energy requirements overall and they may be at elevated risk for . . . cardiovascular risk factors when a greater proportion of calories is consumed in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages,” Shay explained.

Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, reports, “This study adds to the data we already have that people should displace sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric beverages, preferably water.”

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 8, 2013         Study presented at meeting of the American Heart Association       




A Danish study of diet and heart-attack risk concluded that replacing dietary saturated fats with refined carbohydrates such as white potatoes and bread resulted in a significantly higher risk of heart attack than replacing the fats with whole grains and vegetables.

Marianne U Jakobsen, MSc, PhD, of Aarhus University Hospital, and her team followed 53,644 healthy adults for an average of 12 years.  During that time, 1,943 participants had heart attacks.

Those whose glycemic index (GI) indicated they’d substituted refined carbs for saturated fats were 33% more likely to have a heart attack.

Subjects who’d picked low-GI carbohydrates to replace saturated fat were at lower risk.

Jakobsen and colleagues advise reducing heart-disease risk by eating “less-refined foods, non-starchy vegetables, fruits and legumes.”

Whole grains, but most especially those rich in soluble fiber—barley, oats and rye—are better choices than highly processed carbohydrate sources such as white bread.  Processed grains, such as white flour, are faster to digest, thus leading to a spike in blood sugar associated with greater risk of diabetes and heart disease.

“Clearly, diets high in either saturated fat or refined carbohydrates are not suitable for heart-disease prevention,” says Dr Frank B Hu, MD, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health and author of the study.  “However, refined carbohydrates are likely to cause even greater metabolic damage than saturated fat in a predominantly sedentary and overweight population.”

Alice H Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, advises, “Since 2000 the major dietary guidelines intended to prevent or treat heart disease have advocated a moderate fat diet that is low in saturated fat.  That translates to displacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat.“

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter,  May 13, 2013        Study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition