We all know that excess consumption of sugar can have a myriad of effects on our bodies, but most people don’t know that it can both directly and indirectly impact the heart.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that a molecule from sugar (glucose metabolite glucose 6-phosphate (G6P)) was actually responsible for changes in the muscle protein of the heart. This molecule is also found in starch (which turns to sugar in the body), so it is important to be aware that it is not only the word “sugar” in excess that causes these changes.
Sugar makes normally pliable blood vessels tense. Chronically elevated levels of insulin cause the smooth muscle cells around the blood vessels to grow at an accelerated rate. These tense artery walls lead to high blood pressure and significantly increase risk for stroke and heart attacks.
When reading labels, it’s important not to be tricked into purchasing “whole grain” products to avoid blood sugar spikes. When manufacturers create whole grain flour, wheat kernels are pulverized before being added to products. This processed whole grain flour causes similar insulin spikes to eating white flour and table sugar. Whole wheat bread and white bread cause the same increase in glucose levels in the blood; therefore, they require approximately the same amount of insulin to clear the glucose from the blood.
Be aware that the glycemic index is truly the best guideline when eating.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Take a look at your overall sugar consumption. Read labels to make sure the items you are choosing are less than 5 grams of sugar per serving. Aim to fill up on low glycemic vegetables and lean protein, and use starches and sugars as treats.