Does insulin cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)?

Every time we eat a sugar or a simple carbohydrate, the body produces insulin. For example, if you eat a donut, the body responds by making more insulin to lower blood sugar. Not only does insulin itself cause weight gain in the mid?line and damage to the lining of the arteries, but high insulin levels, combined with high blood sugar levels, can lead to a hardening of the arteries.
High blood sugar levels cause proteins in the inner lining of blood vessels to become sticky and to accumulate in the blood. These sticky proteins form plaques in the walls of the arteries. LDL, or "bad," cholesterol particles enter this sticky wall and cause the blood vessel to narrow, restricting blood flow. When plaque develops in the arteries, high blood sugar levels increase the likelihood that the plaque may break off and cause a clot, which could block the vessel and cause a stroke.
Diabetics should try to choose foods that do not increase insulin level. For example, an apple will not increase the body's insulin level, but apple juice will. If a person's insulin level increases, the level of blood sugar will drop very low, causing the individual to crave more sugar—resulting in a cycle that keeps a person eating more and more carbohydrate?rich foods to soothe that craving. Eating foods that are light in carbohydrates and won't increase insulin levels helps prevent hardening of the arteries, mid?line weight gain, and—ultimately—can lower the risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.