Study finds risk of stroke can rise by 10 per cent by having an extra bar of chocolate everyday
- Researchers have highlighted the risks of ‘free sugar’ in products like fizzy drinks
- Free sugar was linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes
Eating too much sugar could raise your odds of having a stroke by 10 per cent, a study suggests.
Researchers have highlighted the risks of ‘free sugar’, which is mainly added to food rather than occurring naturally and is found in products including fizzy drinks and cake.
It was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in a study of more than 110,000 people in the UK, whose health was tracked for nine years on average.
People who ate more free sugar were more likely to suffer a stroke or develop ischaemic heart disease – a category of heart problems, including heart attacks, caused by blood clots.
The average person in the UK gets about 12 per cent of their daily calories from free sugar.
Eating too much sugar could raise odds of having a stroke by 10 per cent, a study suggests
But if someone increases that intake by 5 per cent – for example, by having an extra small bar of chocolate a day – based on the study results, their risk of suffering a stroke would be raised by 10 per cent.
That extra intake was linked to a 6 per cent increased risk of ischaemic heart disease.
Professor Tim Key, co-author of the study from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: ‘These findings suggest free sugar in general, and not just fizzy drinks, are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and strokes.
‘Those with a sweet tooth can get non-free sugar from fruit, which is much healthier.’
The study, in the journal BMC Medicine, looked at middle-aged people from the UK Biobank study who were asked about their typical food and drink consumption over 24 hours.
These questionnaires, filled out at least twice, were analysed to work out their free sugar consumption.
The study suggests people who replaced 5 per cent of their daily calories that come from free sugar with the equivalent amount of non-free sugar, from fruit and vegetables, could reduce their stroke risk by 9 per cent.
Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugar a day, which is roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes, according to the NHS.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide