Does Sugar Raise Cholesterol? High cholesterol and sugar consumption are closely related? A recent study from The Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who consume high amounts of sugar have higher levels of triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol, as well as lower HDL “good” cholesterol levels.
If you have been told that you have high cholesterol, and moreover you love sweets, then you want to better understand the connection between cholesterol and sugar.
The Adverse Cholesterol and Sugar Connection
Researchers have known about the connection between sugar and serious health concerns such as diabetes and obesity for a long time. Yet the adverse connection between cholesterol and sugar has only recently come to light.
Studies found that people who consume greater amounts of sugar had lower HDL “good” cholesterol in their blood and higher levels of triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Your doctor would like you to have low levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol because this form of cholesterol carries fats to your arteries where they can stick and form artery narrowing plaque. This plaque can build and cause your arteries to narrow leading to a higher risk of heart disease.
But you want to have high HDL (good) cholesterol in your blood. Unlike, LDL, high levels of HDL cholesterol can clean fat out of your arteries and transport the fat and cholesterol back to your liver to be broken down and eliminated.
When your diet is high in sugar, your body makes more Bad/LDL cholesterol and less HDL/good cholesterol. This creates a cholesterol profile that is detrimental to your heart health, as you want to have high HDL but low LDL.
Cholesterol and Sugar – Read before eating
Food manufacturers have found ways to sneak sugar into many foods on your grocery shelf. They add sugar to enhance the appeal of foods but this added ingredient makes it harder for you to control your cholesterol level.
You want to read food labels carefully to avoid hidden sugars. Look for words such as – sucrose, – dextrose, and – high fructose corn syrup on your food labels.
If these types of sugar are located near the beginning of the ingredients list, the food item contains greater quantities of that sugar.
You also want to pay attention to the number of servings in a food item. Food manufacturers may list multiple servings in a food that you think should be one serving. For instance, you may read that your favorite pastry contains 20 grams of sugar but if the package contains 2 pastries you could double your sugar intake.
A few days ago I was having a soft drink and checked the sugar content. Based on the reading it had 12 grams (about half an ounce) of sugar. Yeah, I thought this is the same amount of sugar I put in my coffee in the morning.
But then on careful inspection, it was 12 grams out of 100 ml of drink. They can have 325 ml, so the content was closer to 40 grams of sugar (about 1.5 ounces). So actually it was as if I was consuming enough sugar to have 3 cups of coffee. Bad, really bad – it is as if I was eating sugar with a big spoon.
That’s why understanding your cholesterol and sugar intake starts by reading food labels.
You can also lower your cholesterol by making healthy living choices such as losing excess weight, getting regular exercise and eating a diet high in fiber.
All the Best
(1) Family Life (2010). Sugar and high cholesterol. Retrieved from http://www.fln.org/fln-news-blog/sugar-and-high-cholesterol/