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If you have high blood pressure, the chances are that your GP or doctor has told you to cut back on your salt intake because it has been shown to contribute to the medical condition. However, new research has suggested that consuming larger amounts of sugar can push up your blood pressure more than the effects of consuming large amounts of salt.
A study recently published in the online journal Open Heart has shown that added sugars are more likely to play a greater role in high blood pressure and heart disease than salt.
The scientists behind the study have said that the benefits of cutting salt intake overall in order to lower blood pressure levels is ‘debateable’ and added that dietary guidelines currently in place should be revised to become focused on reducing sugar instead of salt.
The study revealed that individuals who have a daily intake of more than 74 grams of high fructose corn syrup – a sweetener used in many processed foods such as fizzy drinks – have up to a 30% higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
When our bodies are regularly ‘overwhelmed’ by the over-consumption of too much sugar, we can develop a resistance to insulin – a characteristic most often associated with diabetes. However, this can also affect our blood vessels and consequently, our blood pressure.
Dr Timothy Graham says, “There is an increasing recognition that sugars in the diet are an important cause of insulin resistance, and ultimately of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.”
Research also suggested that British and American teenagers could already be consuming over 16 times the recommended limit of added sugars – a huge risk factor in developing a condition which can be linked to heart disease and other medical conditions.
James DiNicolantonio published the paper, and states “Sugar may be much more meaningfully related to blood pressure than sodium”.
He added, “Compelling evidence from basic science, population studies, and clinical trials implicates sugars, and particularly the monosaccharide fructose, as playing a major role in the development of hypertension [high blood pressure]. Moreover, evidence suggests that sugars in general, and fructose in particular, may contribute to overall cardiovascular risk through a variety of mechanisms.”
Whilst reducing your sugar consumption is known to have important health benefits, it’s important to follow the advice of your doctor or GP and not dismiss the effect that too much salt intake can have on your blood pressure, too, so make sure you are not over-indulging in either kind of the white stuff.