Patterns: Added Sugar and High Blood Pressure

Posted on Jul 8, 2010 in Health & Wellness


Published: July 5, 2010

A new study suggests that foods high in added sugar may increase the risk of high blood pressure.

Researchers analyzed data for 4,528 adults with no history of hypertension who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2003-6. Those who consumed at least 2.6 ounces a day of fructose in the form of table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup were found to have almost double the risk for systolic blood pressure higher than 160. (The top number of the two, a measure of blood pressure while the heart is beating, it should normally be no higher than 120.)

“Systolic pressure is really what physicians are interested in, because it’s related to outcomes, and the increase is pretty dramatic,” said Dr. Michel Chonchol, an associate professor of medicine at University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center and the senior author of the paper, which appeared in The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

But Dr. Chonchol cautioned that more research was needed to prove that added fructose played a causal role in hypertension. “This needs to be proven with the next step, which is a randomized controlled trial,” he said.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting food and beverages with added sugars. In a statement last year, the association said an “emerging but inconclusive body of evidence” suggested “that increased intake of added sugars might raise blood pressure.”

A version of this article appeared in print on July 6, 2010, on page D6 of the New York edition.