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Sugar Consumption Increases Fat Deposits Around the Heart

Sugar Consumption Increases Fat Deposits Around the Heart

Sugar Consumption Increases Fat Deposits Around the Heart

By: Steve Born

No athlete wants excess fat on their body—it slows them down and decreases athletic performance. Everyone, athlete or not, needs to be concerned about excess fat deposits on their body, especially fat deposits on the heart. New research has revealed the connection between eating more sugar, the resulting fat deposits in the body, and the negative health impacts across the entire human body (especially in the heart).

A new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology [1] reviewed the effects of sugar intake volume and three kinds of fat:

*** Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) – Fat tissue located deep in the abdomen and around internal organs
*** Subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) – Fat tissue primarily located beneath the skin
*** Pericardial adipose tissue (PAT) – Fat tissue located around the outer part of the heart

Researchers gathered existing and new data over a 25-year period from nearly 3100 men and women who took part in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study that began in 1983.

After taking into account numerous variables (e.g. age, physical activity, smoking and drinking status, and more), researchers analyzed the data and found that participants who consumed more than 50 grams of added sugar daily had higher amounts of VAT, SAT, and PAT. While an increase in fat deposits anywhere is undesirable and associated with negative health issues, the increase in PAT is especially notable.

This is because, as aptly stated in other research, “Both abdominal visceral fat [VAT] and pericardial fat (visceral fat around the heart) [PAT] have a higher release of free fatty acids and inflammatory cytokines than subcutaneous fat [SAT]. Because of its location, pericardial adipose tissue may constitute an especially harmful fat depot.” [2]

Increased fat deposits around the heart lead to several highly undesirable outcomes:

*** Atrial fibrillation
*** Coronary artery calcification
*** Reduced left ventricular function
*** Coronary heart disease

The researchers concluded that an increase in the volume of pericardial, visceral, and subcutaneous adipose tissues was associated with a high-sugar diet.

High-sugar diets—mostly from sugar-sweetened beverages and added sugars in processed foods—are associated with numerous health risks, which extend far beyond diabetes and obesity. Excess sugar is associated with an increase in fat deposits around the heart, which is directly responsible for the number of cardiovascular diseases.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men. [3] Unfortunately, data culled from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans shows that the average American consumes a whopping 17 teaspoons (71.14 grams) every day, translating into approximately 57 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person. [4, 5]

The message we at Hammer Nutrition have been preaching since day one has not and will not change: To be a better athlete and, more importantly, to significantly stave off undesirable health consequences—especially cardiovascular diseases—we must reduce our sugar intake in our diets and in the fuels we consume!

[1] So-Yun Yi, Lyn M Steffen, James G Terry, et al. Added sugar intake is associated with pericardial adipose tissue volume. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2020 June 28;2047487320931303.

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042681/

[3] https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars

[4] https://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-growing-concern-of-overconsumption.html#.Xz_7ashKguU

[5] https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-10/DGA_Cut-Down-On-Added-Sugars.pdf 

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