Are Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners Linked to CVD?

NursingMay 02, 2014

You hear all the time how consuming sugar is detrimental to health — yet are artificial sweeteners less harmful? The medical community does not have a consensus of opinion on the subject; however, disturbing research indicates that sugar substitutes are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as well as other maladies in the same way that regular sugars are.

Fake Sugars May Increase Risks

Artificial sugars are not a good alternative for you. Research presented at the 2011 International Stroke Conference found that people who consumed diet sodas every day had a staggering 61 percent greater risk of heart attack and stroke compared to those who abstained from such beverages.

Dispelling Sugar Substitute Myths

Undoubtedly, you have heard that artificial sweeteners are a good choice for diabetics and those trying to control their weight. According to Harvard Health, research suggests that these purported benefits may not stand up to scientific scrutiny. In fact, studies show the opposite may be true.

A San Antonio Heart Study discovered that participants who drank 21 diet beverages per week were at double the risk of becoming overweight or obese compared to those who did not drink soda. Moreover, the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis found the daily consumption of diet drinks was linked to a 67 percent higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Harmful Effects of Natural Sugar

In a recent study published in the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that people who consumed the most sugar in their diet had twice the risk of CVD deaths than people who consumed the least. Additionally, a greater risk was also associated with the regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Aside from the CVD risk, sugar is linked to other health disorders. These include an increased likelihood of inflammation, diabetes, obesity and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Recommended Intake for Sugar

The American diet is loaded with sugar, as it is added to a host of beverages and prepared food products. Experts disagree on what quantity of sugar intake is safe for you; the Institute of Medicine advises that it comprise less than 25 percent of your total calories, while the World Health Organization recommends it comprise less than 10 percent.

Healthful Alternatives

For those seeking sugar, one of the best sources of natural sugar is whole fruit. It is high in fiber and nutrients but low in glycemic load. Studies are constantly showing different fruits have value in reducing the risk of various illnesses. Therefore, eating fresh, raw fruit can satisfy your sweet tooth and also enhance your general health.

Since more and more research is finding that CVD and other adverse health effects are linked to the consumption of both sugar and artificial sweeteners, it is a good idea to limit these foods in your diet as much as possible. That being said, incorporating some raw fruit in your diet every day is wonderfully beneficial.

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