Can High Fructose Corn Syrup Raise Your Blood Pressure?
There has been a lot of negative press recently about high fructose corn syrup. Some studies show that a diet high in fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. If that’s not bad enough, a recent study showed a high fructose intake also increase the risk of high blood pressure in healthy people without hypertension.
High Fructose Foods and the Risk of Hypertension
In a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrologists, researchers looked at the fructose intake of 4528 healthy adults with normal blood pressures. They found among adults without hypertension, those who had a fructose intake of seventy-four grams of fructose daily or more were at higher risk for high blood pressure, even when other risk factors and dietary habits were taken into account.
How much is seventy-four grams of fructose a day? A quantity that thousands of people consume each day without even thinking about it. Seventy-four grams of fructose is the equivalent of drinking two-and-a-half soft drinks a day. How many people do you know who do that?
This raises the question – is the highly processed diet Americans eat and the soft drinks they drink the reason hypertension and heart disease is on the rise?
Foods High in Fructose are Everywhere
In case you haven’t noticed, high fructose corn syrup is no stranger to supermarket shelves. It’s hiding in many processed foods including unlikely sources such as bread, salad dressings, soups, and ketchup.
Where does high fructose corn syrup come from? Manufacturers produce it using enzymes that convert glucose into fructose. The resulting fructose sugar is then changed to a liquid by mixing it with corn syrup.
Manufacturers love using high fructose corn syrup because it’s inexpensive. In other words, it’s good for the bottom line. In fact, it now accounts for about 40% of the sweeteners used in the United States.
Soft drinks are one of the biggest sources of fructose intake in the American diet – but far from the only one. Other common sources of high fructose corn syrup are packaged condiments, salad dressings, cereals, yogurt, candy bars and other packaged foods.
One researcher found soft drinks high in fructose contain highly reactive chemicals called carbonyls. People with diabetes often have elevated levels of carbonyls. Researchers believe these unhealthy compounds are responsible for some of the complications people with longstanding diabetes experience such as heart disease and kidney disease.
Because carbonyls are so unstable and reactive, they easily attach to tissues and cause damage. It’s not clear whether carbonyls account for all of the damage associated with high fructose foods and beverages or whether they’re responsible for the increased risk of hypertension in people who have a high fructose intake, but it certainly raises questions!
This ubiquitous sweetener is also linked with obesity and elevated triglycerides, which may partially explain the link to heart disease. As if heart disease and high blood pressure aren’t enough of a reason to avoid high fructose corn syrup.
Fructose Intake and Hypertension: The Bottom Line?
In addition to obesity and type 2 diabetes, hypertension is another potential risk of eating high fructose foods and drinking soft drinks. The best plan is to avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup, as much as possible.