A diet high in fructose leads to a greater likelihood of developing hypertension, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Researchers at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus analyzed the diets of 4,528 adults. Those who consumed a lot of sugary foods and drinks—more than the average amount of 74 grams per day, or the equivalent of two and a half 20-ounce bottles of soda—were most likely to have high blood pressure. What’s more, it was far more likely that their blood pressure would be very high—around 160/100—than that it would be just a little elevated. “We found a significant and independent relationship between the two variables in a large population representative of the U.S. population,” said Diana Jalal, MD, lead researcher on the study.
The research team looked at intake of foods that had high fructose content from any source of added sugar. “That included high fructose corn syrup as well as sucrose, or table sugar,” Jalal said.
Jalal cautioned that her study shows an association, and not a cause-and-effect relationship. However, numerous animal studies have shown that high fructose intake causes high blood pressure by increasing salt absorption through the gut, among other mechanisms, she noted. “The [American Heart Association] does recommend restricting sugar intake due to the potential benefit on weight and cardiovascular risk. … Based on our results, it may help with blood pressure as well,” she said.