Hypertension: Cut The Sugar?

sugarAnyone interested in blood pressure will have gotten the message that cutting salt may well be beneficial, especially in someone who has high blood pressure.

Indeed, there is little doubt that a substantial proportion of the population (although not everyone), may be “salt-sensitive” (this used to be my area of research before I switched to obesity).

Now, a paper by Lisa Te Morenga and colleagues, in a paper published in the American Journal of Nutrition, suggests that sugar may be as (if not more) potent than salt in increasing blood pressure levels.

The researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials that examined effects of the modifying dietary free sugar on blood pressure and found that increased sugar intake could increase systolic and diastolic blood pressure by  almost 7 and 6 mmHg, respectively – this effect was greatest in trials ≥8 wk in duration and was not explained by a change in body weight.

This is certainly impressive, as these numbers even exceed what is generally quoted for blood pressure effects of sodium.

While no convincing explanation for the biological basis for these findings are given, they are indeed intriguing as these are findings from randomised intervention trials in human volunteers. No doubt, these findings are certainly far more convincing than the usual “‘X’ causes ‘Y'” nonsense, that we so often see derived from epidemiological studies.

Given the current “moral panic” about sugar (which has pretty much replaced the previous “moral panic” about fat), it should not be hard to get funding to figure out how this actually works.

Sofia, Bulgaria

ResearchBlogging.orgTe Morenga LA, Howatson AJ, Jones RM, & Mann J (2014). Dietary sugars and cardiometabolic risk: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of the effects on blood pressure and lipids. The American journal of clinical nutrition PMID: 24808490