Not the usual suspect: sugar and hypertension

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: October 22nd, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The crime: high blood pressure.

The suspects: fat, salt, lack of activity, smoking.

But wait! Before you close the book on this case, there’s another name to add to your list of perpetrators.


Yes, that’s right… the sweetest one of all. But sugar’s not so innocent when you look at the facts.

Let’s review the evidence. First of all, blood pressure in America has been on the rise for more than one-hundred years. At the turn of the last century, fewer than ten percent of Americans had hypertension. That number now? Closer to thirty percent.

Also increasing is the amount of sugar we eat. Some wiseguy investigators decided to compare the two and got some surprising results.

These scientists looked to see whether sugar was linked to high blood pressure by analyzing results from the National Health and Nutrition Survey, which measured the eating habits of thousands of Americans between 2003 and 2006.

By looking at the diets and the blood pressure of the volunteers, they found that the people who ate and drank more fructose from added sugar (as opposed to natural sources, such as fruit) had higher blood pressure than those who didn’t. The volunteers with higher blood pressure also tended to have bigger waistlines.

Overall, the guys and gals who consumed more than seventy-four grams of fructose from added sugars were more likely to be hypertensive. The results held up even when controlling for other factors, such as the consumption of salt or alcohol. So how much junk food do you have to eat to hit seventy-four grams? Just two twenty-ounce Coca-Colas will do the trick.

Case closed. Sugar ain’t so sweet after all. Kick it out of your diet and some folks might end up a lot happier… and healthier. in the long run.