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Substance found in Sugar Kills Good Cholesterol

Update Date: Sep 01, 2014 11:25 AM EDT

Several studies have found that consuming too much sugar can be detrimental to one's health. In a recent study headed by researchers from the University of Warwick, the team discovered that a particular substance found in sugar could turn high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also called the good cholesterol, "bad."

In this study headed by Dr. Naila Rabbani, of the Warwick Medical School, the researchers focused on a substance called methylglyoxal (MG). They found that MG negatively impacted heart health by destabilizing HDL cholesterol, which caused the body's HDL content to drop. Lower levels of HDL cholesterol have been tied to an increased risk of heart disease.

"MG damage to HDL is a new and likely important cause of low and dysfunctional HDL, and could count for up to a 10% risk of heart disease," Dr. Rabbani said according to the press release.

MG is derived from glucose present in the body. MG is about 40,000 times more reactive than glucose. It affects HDL cholesterol by damaging arginine residue. Abnormally high levels of MG are called dicarbonyl stress. People with certain diseases, such as diabetes, kidney dialysis, heart disease and obesity tend to have high levels of MG.

The researchers stated that there are currently no drugs that can reverse the damage caused by MG. The team hopes that by uncovering how MG affects HDL, they can develop treatments that would prevent HDL cholesterol levels from dipping.

"By understanding how MG damages HDL we can now focus on developing drugs that reduce the concentration of MG in the blood, but it not only be drugs that can help. We could now develop new food supplements that decrease MG by increasing the amount of a protein called glyoxalase 1, or Glo 1, which converts MG to harmless substances," Dr. Rabbani said. "This means that in future we have both new drugs and new foods that can help prevent and correct low HDL, all through the control of MG."

The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). It was published in the journal, Nutrition and Diabetes.

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