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As evidence has mounted to debunk the saturated fat hypothesis of heart disease, researchers have zeroed in on other dietary components that harm the cardiovascular system. Problems with insulin health and blood sugar regulation are emerging as a primary indicator of cardiovascular problems.

When you eat, blood sugar is elevated in order to supply your cells with energy. This is a normal process that is necessary for life, however, due to the combination of inactivity and unhealthy diets high in refined foods, many people have excessively high blood sugar levels. Elevated blood damages blood vessels, causing inflammation and leading to hardening of the arteries so that they are less able to dilate.

Another negative effect of chronically high blood sugar is that cells become resistant to insulin. Insulin is the storage hormone that helps your cells burn blood sugar. As you develop insulin resistance, triglyceride levels increase. Triglycerides are fat that is circulating in the blood stream.

As triglycerides go up, levels of the harmful small, dense LDL cholesterol increase. These LDL particles are susceptible to oxidation, or damage, which increases the chance that they will result in the deposition of plaques in the blood vessels that lead to heart disease. Another problem with high triglycerides, especially when combined with insulin resistance is that HDL cholesterol goes down. HDL particles scavenge the small LDL particles from the blood transporting them to the liver to be metabolized.

Exercise and being active throughout the day will increase your cell’s sensitivity to insulin, while burning blood sugar. Lifestyle habits that reduce stress help manage appetite and junk food binges. Finally, choose a diet of whole foods that de-emphasizes high-carb refined foods in favor of high-quality protein, vegetables, and healthy fat.

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