The Framingham Heart Study, one of the longest-running and most influential cardiovascular studies in the world, has found that people who consume the most sugar-sweetened beverages have a higher risk of developing high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, triglycerides are a type of fat found in the bloodstream, and high levels can increase the risk of heart disease. This research shows that eating too much sugar can increase the production of triglycerides in the liver. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that dietary fructose, a natural sugar found in fruit, vegetables, and honey, caused significant increases in triglycerides. The increased triglyceride levels can contribute to the formation of plaque in arteries, a process known as atherosclerosis, which can ultimately lead to heart problems (via Johns Hopkins Medicine).
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is also called “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is responsible for removing excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and carrying it to the liver for disposal. However, the study also showed that excessive sugar intake is associated with lower levels of HDL cholesterol. This can affect the balance of lipids in the bloodstream, which can lead to the buildup of arterial plaque and potentially contribute to health problems.