Eating simple carbohydrates like processed sugar is not only a surefire way to increase your waistline, but research also now shows that they might be bad for your heart as well. According to research done at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, consuming too much of the stuff at once can have some pretty bad side effects.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and used 33 participants who were both men and women. Before they started testing the participants the researchers got everyone on a standard diet to make sure that they were bascially on the same page. Then they served the participants a glucose drink that contained 294 calories, 75.9g carbs (which all came from the sugar), .01 gram fat, and 2.1 grams of protein.
At first glance that probably seems like a crazy amount of sugar, but the average person who isn’t watching what they eat or drink truly consumes some crazy amount so sugar. Even so called healthy drinks like smoothies and juices can contain around 1oo grams of sugar, not to mention things like coffee drinks, fast food, and actual sweets and desserts.
For the next step of the study they then monitored the blood levels of the participants for the next six hours to see if they could pinpoint some changes in the way their heart was responding to the excess sugar in the body.
They did this by looking at the production of a hormone called atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), which helps to reduce the blood pressure and get rid of excess salt in the body. The researchers found that the shake caused the levels of ANP to drop by 25 percent in just a couple hours.
This is an important finding, since past research has shown that people who are overweight make less of the ANP in general, which is part of the reason why weight gain can be linked with retaining salt and high blood pressure. In the case where someone is already producing less ANP because of their weight and then continuing to eat high carb and high sugar diets, it could put excess strain onto the heart.
It is important to note that this study was only taking into account simple carbs, so this does not mean that all carbs are bad. In fact we need carbohydrates for our energy.
According to the lead study author Thomas Wang, M.D.:
“Because the rise in blood sugar occurs much more rapidly with simple carbohydrates, it’s possible the more gradual rise in blood sugar seen with complex carbohydrates might reduce the negative effects [a.k.a. the drop in ANP], but this hasn’t been tested yet.”