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Sugar Is Linked To Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure: Study

10/27/2015 01:49 EDT | Updated 10/28/2015 12:00 EDT

We don't need another study to tell us about the harmful effects of eating excessive sugar, but one recent study believes sugar may be more harmful than we previously thought.

According to the study by San Francisco pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig and author of Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar for the Guardian, the threat of sugar can be underestimated, and it can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure, even if you don't put on weight.

The research, which was published in the "Obesity" journal, conducted the study by replacing sugar in diets of 43 obese children with starchy foods like pizza and chips. And while these foods were still considered unhealthy and definitely processed, they wanted to see if removing sugar and replacing it with other not-so-healthy food could make a difference.

As Lustig wrote in the Guardian,

"We were astonished at the results. Diastolic blood pressure decreased by five points. Blood fat levels dropped precipitously. Fasting glucose decreased by five points, glucose tolerance improved markedly, insulin levels fell by 50%. In other words we reversed their metabolic disease in just 10 days, even while eating processed food, by just removing the added sugar and substituting starch, and without changing calories or weight. Can you imagine how much healthier they would have been if we hadn’t given them the starch?"

However, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), other researchers point out Lustig's findings may be flawed because there could be other reasons the participants' bodies changed over a small period of time.

“Because of the study’s design, we can’t be completely certain that the changes are fully attributable to changes in sugar intake,” David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital told the WSJ.

Ludwig does agree this research is useful in going in the right direction to combat obesity in children, but still says more research needs to be done.

And while this study says one thing, it is common for people to see changes after giving up sugar even for a month. One Dutch man not only lost weight after giving up added sugar and alcohol for a month, but his blood pressure and cholesterol also dropped.

If you're looking for ways to cut back on sugar yourself (without completely getting rid of it), the Heart and Stroke Foundation has a few suggestions:

If you're thirsty, try lemon-flavoured water instead of pop or alcohol. If you're in need of a snack, try roasted nuts or low-fat cheese and crackers, and if you need dinner ideas, try meal planning ahead or cooking at home instead of eating out regularly.

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