AURORA, Colo. – People who eat a diet high in fructose in the form of added sugar are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension. The results of a new study suggest that cutting back on foods and beverages containing a lot of fructose (sugar) might decrease one’s risk of developing hypertension. Hypertension is the most common chronic condition in developed countries and a major risk factor for heart and kidney diseases.
To examine whether increased fructose consumption has contributed to rising rates of hypertension, Diana Jalal, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and study co-authors Richard Johnson, MD, professor and division head, Michel Chonchol, MD, associate professor and Gerard Smits, PhD, analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (2003-2006). The study involved 4,528 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older with no prior history of hypertension. Study participants answered questions related to their consumption of foods and beverages such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products, and candy. The research team found that people who consumed a diet of 74 grams or more per day of fructose (corresponding to 2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) had a 26 percent, 30 percent and 77 percent higher risk for blood pressure levels of 135/85, 140/90 and 160/100 mmHg, respectively. A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg.
“Our study identifies a potentially modifiable risk factor for high blood pressure. However, well-planned prospective randomized clinical studies need to be completed to see if low fructose diets will prevent the development of hypertension and its complications,” Jalal said.
During the past century, a dramatic increase in the consumption of this simple sugar, which is used to sweeten a wide variety of processed foods, mirrors the dramatic rise in the prevalence of hypertension.
Preliminary findings were presented in abstract form at ASN Renal Week 2010 and highlighted in a press release. This study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN). The article, titled “Increased Fructose Associates with Elevated Blood Pressure,” is online at http://jasn.asnjournals.org/ utpatient division of the Hospital.
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