A diet high in fructose increases the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology's 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, California. The findings suggest that cutting back on processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may help prevent hypertension.
Scientists studied the issue in a large representative population of US adults. They examined 4,528 adults 18 years of age or older with no prior history of hypertension. Fructose intake was calculated based on a dietary questionnaire, and foods such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products, and candy were included.
The team found that people who ate or drank more than 74 grams per day of fructose (2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) increased their risk of developing hypertension. Specifically, a diet of more than 74 grams per day of fructose led to a 28%, 36%, and 87% higher risk for blood pressure levels of 135/85, 140/90, and 160/100 mmHg, respectively.
Blood pressure readings consist of two figures. The first "systolic" reading relates to when the heart is actively pumping. The second "diastolic" reading shows the blood pressure between beats.
"Normal" blood pressure is said to be a reading of around 120/80 millimetres (mmHg) depending on age.
The authors concluded
"These results indicate that high fructose intake in the form of added sugars is significantly and independently associated with higher blood pressure levels in the US adult population with no previous history of hypertension."
High fructose corn syrup is used to sweeten many foods and soft drinks. It is a non-natural, refined product made from mostly genetically-modified corn. Research has found that sustained regular intake of it leads to a damaged pancreas (leading to diabetes), obesity, liver damage and other illnesses.
Jalal D, Johnson R, Chonchol M. Increased fructose Intake is Independently Associated with Elevated blood pressure. Findings from the National health and nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2006).