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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


  1. I believe this to be true- so I am checking my products for “sugar” as well as sodium content.

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  2. The low carb world has known this, the evil of sugar, since Atkins first book, but some of us are just slow. I tumbled to that in 2008, (Good Calories, Bad Calories).

    Reduction of sugar and wheat produces from my life has made a big difference of over 50 kg, maintaining that loss since summer 2009. Wheat digests turns to glucose pushing up blood glucose, but it is the fructose portion that is damaging, according Dr Lustig. Wheat (ground, cooked), per unit weight, is worse for blood sugar than sugar, as sugar is half fructose.

    My blood sugar dropped quick, as did blood pressure, and I drop all the medications. One of those experts said it had to do with the kidney re-uptake of sodium.

    “A high carbohydrate diet is a high salt diet due to salt re-uptake.”
    “Once we get insulin down, the body has lots of fat, so hunger is greatly reduced.”

    But you know this.

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