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Whole grain breads and pasta that leads to high-sugar diet

In The News: May 2018

Omega-3 improves sleep in lupus patients; high-sugar diet increases heart-disease risk; vitamin D deficiency ups heart-failure risk; and reducing oxidants improves wet AMD.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on March 2021.

Healthy People at Risk With High-Sugar Diet

A recent study found changes in fat metabolism that are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in men who consumed a high-sugar diet.*

The study included men with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and healthy men with a low amount of liver fat. On a daily basis for 12 weeks, participants were given diets that contained an equal amount of total calories but provided either 650 or 140 of those calories from sugar.

Men with NAFLD who received the high-sugar diet exhibited changes associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Among men who did not have NAFLD who were given the high sugar diet, liver fat increased and fat metabolism became more like that of individuals with NAFLD.

What you need to know

A high-sugar diet shows changes associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Those with lupus may benefit from greater omega-3 intake. A connection has been found between deficient vitamin D levels and heart-failure risk.

Editor’s Note: “A high intake of sugars produced changes in the lipoprotein metabolism of controls that were characteristic of men with NAFLD,” the study authors observe. “These findings indicate that the accumulation of liver fat can influence the plasma lipid and lipoprotein response to dietary sugars, and provide new evidence for a mechanism to explain how sugars may contribute to NAFLD and dyslipidemia (an abnormally high amount of lipids in the blood).”


*Clin Sci (Lond). 2017;131(21):2561-73.

Omega-3 Improves Mood, Sleep in Lupus Patients

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The 2017 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals Annual Meeting was the site of a presentation showing improvements in sleep quality and mood in association with higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids among lupus patients.*

Using data from the Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance program, researchers evaluated possible associations between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake and patient-reported outcomes in 456 SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) patients.

Greater omega-3 intake was linked with better sleep and less depression.

“Many SLE patients suffer from symptoms such as poor sleep, fatigue and depression,” commented researcher Prae Charoenwoodhipong. “While current treatments have been wonderful at addressing pain, we haven’t been able to offer therapies that really help with these other symptoms.”

Editor’s Note: “Many small studies found that omega-3 supplementation was associated with an improvement in disease activity in lupus patients, but no studies have looked at omega-3 exposure through diet or its impact on patient-related outcomes,” Prae Charoenwoodhipong noted. “According to rheumatologists I’ve worked with, patients with SLE are always asking about what they might be able to do with supplements or their diet to help improve their health.”


*2017 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals Annual Meeting. 2017 Nov 3-8.

Supplements Effective for Wet Macular Degeneration

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An article in the British Journal of Ophthalmology concluded that supplementing with oxidant-reducing nutrients is effective and affordable for individuals with neovascular (“wet”) age-related macular degeneration (AMD).*

Adnan Tufail and colleagues sought to evaluate the cost effectiveness of two formulas used in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) among patients with intermediate age-related macular degeneration in both eyes or neovascular age-related macular degeneration in one eye. One supplement contained vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and beta carotene; the second replaced beta carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin.

Their analysis determined that both formulas are cost effective for treating patients with early-stage wet AMD, and were most cost effective for those with the condition in one eye. Patients who received the nutrients would need about eight fewer injections of currently used therapies, and would also experience an increase in quality-adjusted life.

Editor’s Note: The wet form of AMD is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina that can leak and damage the eyes’ macula, which is responsible for central vision.


*Br J Ophthalmol. 2017 Aug 23.

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart-Failure Risk

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An article published in ESC Heart Failure reports an association between increased heart-failure risk and vitamin D deficiency among an older group of men and women.*

Researchers analyzed medical records from 137 subjects aged 60 years and older who were seen at cardiology outpatient clinics. Deficient 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, defined as less than 30 ng/mL, were revealed among 65% of the subjects.

Among deficient subjects, 78.7% had an increased risk of heart failure as determined by Health and Aging and Body Composition Heart Failure scores that put them at medium, high, or very high risk in comparison with normal risk.

“The increased risk of HF (heart failure) in this study was present in more than half of the elderly and was significantly associated with vitamin D deficiency (increasing by 12.2 times the risk of HF),” the authors reported.

Editor’s Note: “Based on the evidence presented in this study, which is supported by the literature, the high percentage of elderly individuals with vitamin D deficiency and its consequences for increased risk of HF suggest a need of dosage recommendations for this vitamin, especially in primary healthcare services,” the authors conclude.


*ESC Heart Fail. 2018;5(1):63-74.