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Eggs Don’t Cause Heart Attacks — Sugar Does

Eggs Don’t Cause Heart Attacks — Sugar Does

It’s over. The debate is settled.

It’s sugar, not fat, that causes heart attacks.

Oops. Fifty years of doctors’ advice and government eating guidelines have been wrong. We’ve been told to swap eggs for Cheerios. But that recommendation is dead wrong. In fact, it’s very likely that this bad advice has killed millions of Americans.

A rigorously done new study shows that those with the highest sugar intake had a four-fold increase in their risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes. That’s 400%! Just one 20-ounce soda increases your risk of a heart attack by about 30%.

This study of more than 40,000 people, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, accounted for all other potential risk factors including total calories, overall diet quality, smoking, cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol.

This follows on the heels of decades of research that has been mostly ignored by the medical establishment and policy makers. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends getting no more than 25% of your total calories from added sugar. Really?? This study showed that your risk of heart attacks doubles if sugar makes up 20% of your calories.

Yet more than 70% of Americans consume 10% of their daily calories from sugar. And about 10% of Americans consume one in every four of their calories from sugar.

Failed Dietary Guidelines

U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide no limit for added sugar, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still lists sugar as a “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) substance. That classification lets the food industry add unlimited amounts of sugar to our food. At least the American Heart Association recommends that our daily diet contain no more than 5% to 7.5% added sugar. Yet most of us are eating a lot more. Most of us don’t know that a serving of tomato sauce has more sugar than a serving of Oreo cookies, or that fruit yogurt has more sugar than a Coke, or that most breakfast cereals — even those made with whole grain — are 75% sugar. That’s not breakfast, it’s dessert!

This is a major paradigm shift. For years, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that fat causes heart attacks and raises cholesterol, and that sugar is harmless except as a source of empty calories. They are not empty calories. As it turns out, sugar calories are deadly calories. Sugar causes heart attacks, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia, and is the leading cause of liver failure in America.

The biggest culprit is sugar-sweetened beverages including sodas, juices, sports drinks, teas and coffees. They are by far the single biggest source of sugar calories in our diet. In fact, more than 37% of our sugar calories come from soda. The average teenage boy consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar a day, or about 544 calories from sugar. Even more troubling, this isn’t just putting kids at risk for heart attacks at some remote later date in their lives. It’s killing them before their 20th birthday.

This new research syncs with decades of data on how sugar causes insulin resistance, high triglycerides, lower HDL (good) cholesterol and dangerous small LDL (bad) cholesterol. It also triggers the inflammation we now know is at the root of heart disease.

And fats, including saturated fats, have been unfairly blamed. With the exception of trans fats, fats are actually protective. This includes omega-3 fats, nuts and olive oil, which was proven to reduce heart attack risk by more than 30% in a recent large randomized controlled study.

Here’s the simple fact: Sugar calories are worse than other calories. All calories are not created equal. A recent study of more than 175 countries found that increasing overall calories didn’t increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but increasing sugar calories did — dramatically.

How to Cure Our Sugar Addiction

America lags far behind the rest of the world in addressing this problem. Mexico, for example, responded after learning that when soda consumption increased to 20% of calories for the average citizen, their rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes skyrocketed. Public health officials there researched effective solutions to combat obesity and diabetes from around the world.

The key interventions they implemented included taxing soda, banning junk food television advertising, and eliminating processed foods, junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages from schools. More than 15 countries have targeted sugar-sweetened beverages by taxing them — a strategy that’s proven successful.

Another effective strategy is revamping food labeling to make it clear if a food is good, should be consumed with caution, or is bad for you. In the United States, even someone with a Ph.D. in nutrition has trouble deciphering food labels. How can the average person be expected to know?

Recent and mounting scientific evidence clearly proves that sugar — and flour, which raises blood sugar even more than table sugar — is biologically addictive. In fact, it’s as much as eight times more addictive than cocaine.

The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour a year. It’s imperative that we revamp our outdated and dangerous national dietary guidelines. And we need clear strategies and medical programs to help people understand and address the health risks and addictive nature of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

That’s how we can reverse this tsunami of obesity and chronic disease that is robbing us of our health and crippling our economy.

In my new book, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, which will be released on February 25, I provide an easy, step-by-step plan to rid yourself of sugar addiction and reverse your risk of heart attacks. To download a sneak preview of this book, go to and pre-order the book on Amazon.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (21)

  • I grew up on a farm. Did not eat lots of sugar. Did eat lots of fruit and veggies that were home grown. Families need to make an effort to grow some of their own food and teach their children
    to do the same.

  • Great article! Looking forward to learning more in Dr. Hyman’s next book.

  • I would love to hear you comment on whether or not you think eating only whole raw fruits and vegetables, but mostly fruits (almost a “fruitarian”) is a higher risk for heart attacks than eating a diet of mostly vegetables and little fruits.

  • I am a 62 year old female
    List of conditions:
    High Cholesterol,Fatty liver,Osteoporosis in the spine (2.5) Osteopenia in the hip,Hiatus hernia for many years,spondylolysthesis in lower spine,Mucoid ganglion cyst on right baby finger, left baby finger joint a little swollen.
    I have been against taking statins and have tried numerous natural products with not much success. I do have a sweet tooth, but have been trying to curb as much sugars as possible- but am easily tempted.Recently went to an endocrinologist who was adamant that I take Crestor 5mg at least twice a week- for 3 months and then re-test-so I finally gave in.
    He also wanted me to take Evista for the bone density- but decided on Strontium Citrate 340mg daily,Not sure if this is any better.
    I try to swim 30 min a time – 3 times a week and on other days bounce on a rebounder.Also have started other exercises to improve bone density-not enough though yet.
    I have investigated different diets-Great Taste Non Pain- correct food combining and more alkaline less acid foods, read about the Paleo diet-which looks good but I am not meat crazy and one cannot eat grains and dairy on this diet.
    Also read Save our Bones program. It gets to be somewhat confusing as to which is the correct way to go.
    Blood results from Nov. 2013:
    Fasting glucose–104
    Total cholesterol–296
    LDL –209
    Non HDL cholesterol–245
    Total Chol./HDL ratio–5.8
    Triglcycerides/HDL ratio–3.49
    Height 1.49cm and weight 62kg
    NMR test is not done at my medical service in Israel
    List of medications and nutritional additives:
    Lansaprazole 15mg daily- cannot go without it- have tried
    Artickoke 450mg one morning and eve
    Ubiquanol 50mg 1 x a day
    LCarnitine 500mg 1 a day
    Omega 3 100mg:EPA 300mg and DFA 200mg – 1 a day
    Lecithin 1200mg- 1 x a day
    Cal complex:calc. carb. & citrate 1000mg,Mag.ox.& Mag Citrate 500mg,Zinc oxide 10mg Vit d3 600 IU— 1 a day
    Alpha lipoic acid 100mg –1 a day
    Vt D drops 400iu/drop–3 a day
    Cinsulin complex:-D3-500iu,chromium picolinate 400mg,cinnamon bark extract 500mg—1 a day
    Strontium 340mg– 1 a day

    I work 30 hours a week – mostly on my feet and am pretty active with housework the rest of the time-
    I sleep well and do not have an constipation problems- but generally 3 bowel movements a day.
    I eat a salad daily , take a cucumber or red pepper to work, an apple and a banana a day and sometimes a kiwi.
    Please comment on my diet- to continue with the food combining- how to reduce cholesterol naturally and ideas for the osteporosis.
    Am I taking too many food additives?
    Thank you for your help and very interesting site
    Ethne Caspy

    • Hello Ethne,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to:

      Did you know you can work with Dr. Hyman’s nutritionists virtually? For personalized nutrition coaching where you can receive 1:1 support with Registered Dietitians, please see:
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I would like to know what James ^ wants to know. Is there a difference between processed sugars, and sugars in their natural form (fruit, veggies, etc…).

    • Hi Mary, great question!

      Fructose, when it occurs naturally and combined with fiber and nutrients (fruit) and when not consumed in excess is fine. As you might guess processed sugars are often bleached, have added chemicals, etc. and do not have the benefits of the fiber and nutrients found in whole fruits and vegetables.

    • May I ask how old you are and for how long you have been living on fruit almost exclusively? Because if you do you are not getting any protein or fat – which the body needs to survive

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  • Honest question, if sugar is so addictive, why weren’t people drinking 40oz of soda pre-1980?

    perhaps it’s not the food, but society that needs to look at itself.

  • I swear this whole war on sugar is nothing more than a behemoth precursor to government intervention and being able to tax the heck out of it with the American voter’s blessing. I’m not saying this isn’t all true. I don’t know. But getting the government involved is not the answer. How about just good old fashioned education?? Then let the people decide what they want to do with their private lives.

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  • Awesome article and study, dr hyman. So..sugar is the killer, is the same the natural sugar in the fruit? Like fructoze?

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