For years salt has been the white substance people have been blaming for high blood pressure. But what about sugar? Sugar has been hiding in the sodium shadow and taking a back seat for blood pressure problems.
Does sugar raise blood pressure? Excessive sugar intake from foods with added sugars can raise blood pressure directly and indirectly. Studies have shown a direct link with consuming added sugars and high blood pressure. In addition, excessive sugar can cause health problems linked to high blood pressure.
It’s important to let you know these studies are linking the added sugars like in soda and not natural sugar found in foods like fruit. There’s no reason to stop eating your favorite fruit and even the Dash diet, which is recommended by the American Heart Association, includes fruit (r). For those of you who may not know, Dash stands for Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension. The Dash plan recommends eating fruit but cutting out the added sugars (r).
Studies have shown eating foods that contain natural sugars are healthy. It’s the added sugars that is the culprit. This blog post will inform you several different ways that excess sugar can raise your blood pressure. There’s a bunch of studies showing how much blood pressure increased immediately after drinking soda. Once you read this, you may never drink soda again!
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How Sugar Raises Blood Pressure
Raising Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Consuming excess sugar has been shown to increase blood sugar and insulin levels. When your insulin levels increase, your sympathetic nervous system is activated (r). When this happens, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels constrict. This raises your blood pressure (r).
Increased blood sugar levels can make your body more insulin resistant. In addition to diabetes, insulin resistance is linked to high blood pressure (r).
Reduce The Sensitivity Of Receptors That Regulate Blood Pressure
When excess sugar raises insulin levels, it also reduces the sensitivity of the baroreceptors that regulate blood pressure. Baroreceptors are found in the walls of your arteries. They constantly monitor blood pressure and send signals to the brain when they sense a change in your blood pressure. The brain responds by initiating mechanisms that adjust your blood pressure.
Beverages High In Sugar Raises Blood Pressure
When you hear people warn others to cut back on their soda intake, they always talk about rotting teeth and gaining weight. You never hear anyone say, stop drinking soda or you’ll have high blood pressure. But that’s exactly what’s going on.
One study in 2011 found that people who drank more than one soda a day, had higher blood pressure. In addition, the more they drank, the higher their blood pressure went up (r).
Another study in 2010 involved over 800 adults and lasted over one year. When the study began, most of the people were consuming about 10 ounces of a sugary drink per day. They cut their amount in half and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure reduced (r).
In 2015, researchers took a look at six different studies that totaled over 200,000 people. They found that people who drank one or more sugary drinks a day had a 12% higher risk of high blood pressure (r).
Weight Gain and Obesity
There are many ways added sugars can cause weight gain and obesity (r):
- It replaces nutritional superior food.
- Sugar can decrease your appetite for healthy food.
- Added sugar depletes nutrients in your body.
- Added sugars provide zero nutrition.
- Sugar decreases nutrient absorption.
Obesity has been a growing concern for many reasons including cardiovascular risk and an increase in people dying at an earlier age for cardiovascular disease. Just like obesity, high blood pressure is a major concern and the 2 have been linked together. Studies have shown the rise in people with high blood pressure is in conjunction with an increase in obesity (r).
A blog post I wrote recently, 25 Foods To Avoid With High Blood Pressure, has many foods high in sugar. The other foods listed raise blood pressure for other reasons. You might want to click the post link and read it after this.
Sugar Depletes The Cell’s Energy Stores
Added sugars, unlike simple sugar, depletes the cell’s energy stores. When this occurs, there’s an increase in fatty acid synthesis and uric acid. Too much uric acid is linked to a whole bunch of conditions including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (r).
Sugar Increases The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
A diet high in added sugars increases your risk of dying from heart disease. A large study of added sugar and heart disease was conducted. People who consumed 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar, were 2 times as likely to die from heart disease than people who consumed less than 10%. The odds of people dying from heart disease rose together with the amount of sugar consumed in the diet.
The researchers also took a look at people who consumed high amounts of sugar but also received the proper number of nutrients in their diet. They concluded people who ate more sugar regardless of the other factors, still had higher cardiovascular mortality (r).
More Studies Indicating How Sugar Raises Blood Pressure
In 2014, researchers concluded sugar had a direct effect on blood pressure independent of weight gain. They researched dietary intervention trials between 1965 and 2013. The trials compared sugar in diets which measured the effects on cholesterol and blood pressure. Their findings confirmed sugars contributed to cardiovascular risk independent of body weight gain (r).
A study published in 2012, compared high fructose corn syrup soft drinks with sucrose sweetened soft drinks. Forty men and women were given 24 ounces and examined over a 6 hour period. Both drinks showed an increase in blood pressure but the high fructose corn syrup drink raised systolic blood pressure more (r). The average increase was 15 mm Hg systolic and 9 mm Hg diastolic.
A 2 week diet high in fructose was shown in 2010 to increase systolic BP by 7 mm Hg and diastolic BP by 5 mm Hg. In addition, there was an increase in heart rate, triglycerides and fasting insulin (r).
In 2014, a study examined added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases. The researchers observed a significant link between added sugar intake and increased risk for cardiovascular disease death (r).
If you found this Blood Pressure topic interesting check out these related blood pressure articles also found in this same website:
- 25 Foods To Avoid With High Blood Pressure
- 24 Foods To Reduce Blood Pressure
- Top Foods That Cause High Blood Pressure