Eat less sugar. That’s the conclusion of a recent study published in the journal Atherosclerosis that investigated the effects of sugar consumption on cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cholesterol and triglycerides are markers of heart disease, which is the number one killer of Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are fats made by your body and ingested in the food you eat. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Your body needs both types of cholesterol along with triglycerides to function properly. However, the amounts of these substances in your body need to be balanced. The desired balance of cholesterol and triglyceride levels for adults is: LDL less than 100 mg/dl, high levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides below 250 mg/dl. When triglyceride and cholesterol levels are out of balance, your risk of heart disease is increased.
This study found that obese children who ate less sugar for 9 days had a large reduction in triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels. The only change in the children’s diet was the amount of sugar consumed; the caloric content of their diet remained the same. Importantly, improvements in cholesterol and triglyceride levels decreased the children’s risk of heart disease without losing weight.
Awareness of what you eat can help you regulate your cholesterol and lipid levels and decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Future studies are needed to determine if prolonged changes in sugar consumption lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels for a long period of time in children, and if adults respond in the same way. Until more information is known, decreasing sugar consumption may improve your health.
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