Your diet influences how you feel, so the foods you decide to eat matter. What foods should you avoid if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease and cardiovascular damage?
Studies show that excess sugar in your diet, specifically, refined sugar, can cause a 3-fold increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.1
While some may assume fat would be the main cause of heart disease, eating a moderate amount of healthy fats like essential omega 3s from fish, flax seeds, and other sources, as well as monounsaturated fats from foods like avocado and olive oil, can help reduce LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) and support healthy circulation and overall cardiovascular health.2
Unfortunately, sugar is shown in numerous studies to damage the cardiovascular system, and other key areas of health, through uncontrolled inflammation, production of free radicals, harmful effects on glucose and insulin function, and more. Sugar is shown to reduce the HDL (good) cholesterol and increase LDL (bad) cholesterol. It is also found to turn LDL cholesterol into a much more dangerous form called oxidized cholesterol that significantly increases the risks of cardiovascular damage.3,4
The Dangerous Side Effects of Sugar
Refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates like white flour spike your blood sugar levels, which can eventually lead to chronically high blood sugar and insulin resistance—the primary drivers of diabetes. This then generates uncontrolled inflammation in your body and can lead to weight gain, both also major factors in heart disease.
That is what makes high sugar diets so harmful for your health, metabolism, and a threat to your heart. Eating lots of sugar has also been linked to a dangerous condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), where the liver stores an excess amount of fat. In the US, NAFLD is the most common form of liver disease, estimated to affect up to 25% of the population. This condition is linked to insulin resistance and obesity and if untreated, it can lead to liver fibrosis (uncontrolled scarring) and liver failure.5
Protecting Your Heart Health
Controlling inflammation and balancing your body’s blood sugar levels are essential to maintain optimal cardiovascular health. A low sugar diet with unprocessed foods, low-starch vegetables, a moderate amount of healthy fats, and high-quality protein can help to balance blood sugar levels, control inflammation, and reduce the risks of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Proper sleep and healthy stress relief like yoga and meditation are also essential to control inflammation, keep blood sugar balanced, and improve core body functions.
Researched Supplements for Cardiovascular Disease
For optimal heart health and to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, there are several key supplements that I recommend in my practice.
opens in a new windowModified citrus pectin (MCP) is shown in numerous studies to actively halt and reverse inflammation and fibrosis in the cardiovascular system, delivering powerful protection and support for healthy blood vessels and heart function, and reduce the cardiovascular damage caused by stroke and heart attacks. This researched form of modified citrus pectin is the only natural supplement that can block a protein in the body called galectin-3, a master alarm protein shown in extensive research to be a primary driver of cardiovascular disease, uncontrolled inflammation, and organ damage.
A healthy cardiovascular system is the key to long-term wellness and feeling your best. With a healthy, low-sugar diet, regular exercise and stress relief, and targeted supplements, you can keep heart-damaging inflammation in check and optimize your overall health, naturally.
- DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC, O’Keefe JH. The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2016;58(5):464-472.
- The Truth about Fats: The Good, the Bad, the In Between. Harvard Health Publishing. Updated Dec 11, 2019. Accessed July 7, 2021.
- Godfrey L, Yamada-Fowler N, Smith J, Thornalley PJ, Rabbani N. Arginine-directed glycation and decreased HDL plasma concentration and functionality. Nutr Diabetes. 2014 Sep 1;4(9):e134.
- DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC, O’Keefe JH. The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Mar-Apr;58(5):464-72.
- Umpleby AM, Shojaee-Moradie F, Fielding B, Li X, Marino A, Alsini N, Isherwood C, Jackson N, Ahmad A, Stolinski M, Lovegrove JA, Johnsen S, Jeewaka R Mendis AS, Wright J, Wilinska ME, Hovorka R, Bell JD, Thomas EL, Frost GS, Griffin BA. Impact of liver fat on the differential partitioning of hepatic triacylglycerol into VLDL subclasses on high and low sugar diets. Clin Sci (Lond). 2017 Oct 17;131(21):2561-2573.