“Added sugars” in diet increase triglycerides and lower HDL

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It has been well known that high-fat diet can worsen serum lipids, but it is less clear whether added sugar might also affect lipid level.  

A new study, based on more than 6,000 US adults participated in the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), discovered that increased intake of sugar-sweetened food, increased elevated triglycerides and reduced HDL-cholesterol level. 

The analysis also found that there has been a big jump in consumption of added sugar compared with NHANES data over last 30 years, from 10.6% to 15.8% of daily calories. 

The NHANES sample consisted of 3,088 non-pregnant women and 3,025 men who didn’t have “extremely high” triglyceride levels.  The study also collected data on sugary intake by asking the participants to recall their 24-hour dietary intake. 

The results showed that persons who consumed the most added sugar showed significantly increased risks of having low HDL-C (<40 mg/dL for men; <50 mg/dL for women) and high TG (>150 mg/dL), compared with those who consumed the least. 

Odds ratio for dyslipidemia indicator by % total energy from added sugar in NHANES analysis 

Indicator 5% to <10%, (n=893) 10% to <17.5% (n=1751) 17.5% to <25% (n=1210) >25% (n=1135)
Low HDL 1.0 (0.8-1.4) 1.5 (1.2-1.9) 1.9 (1.5-2.6) 3.1 (2.3-4.3)
High triglycerides 0.8 (0.7-1.1) 1.1 (0.9-1.4) 1.3(1.0-1.6) 1.2 (0.9-1.6)
High LDL-C 0.9 (0.7-1.2) 1.1 (0.9-1.3) 1.1 (0.9-1.5) 1.2 (0.9-1.7)

The results of this study support the importance of dietary guidelines that encourage consumers to limit their intake of added sugars.  The American Heart Association recommends the maximum daily intake of added sugars to less than 140kcal for most US men and 100kcal for most US women.

Published in the April 21, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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