Even healthy people raise their risk of heart disease if they eat too much sugar, new research reveals.
Just 12 weeks of a high-sugar diet increases the amount of fat stored in the liver, a study found.
Previous research suggests fatty livers release substances that damage arteries and increase blood clotting, putting people at risk of suffering a heart disease or stroke.
A sugary diet also causes people’s fat metabolism to be similar to that of a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease sufferer, the new research adds, with such individuals being at an increased risk of heart attacks.
Study author Professor Bruce Griffin from the University of Surrey, said: ‘Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.’
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed 25 men, 11 of which had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The study’s participants were either fed a diet where sugar made up 26 per cent of their total calorie intake or six per cent for 12 weeks.
A six per cent intake is similar to the recommended level.
The participant’s blood lipid and cholesterol levels were measured at the end of the study.
Sugar increases liver fat
Results reveal the men with NAFLD had significantly higher fat levels in their blood after both the high and low-sugar diet.
Yet, even the otherwise healthy men had increased liver fat, as well as their lipid metabolism being similar to NAFLD sufferers, after eating an excessive amount of sugar.
Previous research suggests fatty livers are linked to heart disease as the afflicted detoxifying organ releases substances that damage arteries and increases blood clotting.
Professor Griffin said: ‘Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
‘While most adults don’t consume the high levels of sugar we used in this study, some children and teenagers may reach these levels of sugar intake by over consuming fizzy drinks and sweets.
‘This raises concern for the future health of the younger population, especially in view of the alarmingly high prevalence of NAFLD in children and teenagers, and exponential rise of fatal liver disease in adults.’