It really seems that every day we get more news about the effects of sugar and salt consumption on our health. We know that there’s too much of both in the processed foods flooding our grocery stores as well as the foods being served in fast food restaurants everywhere. We consume far too much sugar and salt, far too often. We’re aware that too much salt is bad for blood pressure. But did we ever think that sugar may be having the same effect?
Sugar is worse than salt for blood pressure and health, according to a new study published on Thursday.
Two researchers, James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD, of St. Luke’s Mid America Hearth Institute and Sean C. Lucan, MD, MPH, of Montefiore Medical Center, examined how dietary efforts to control high blood pressure have focused on limiting sodium. However, their research found added sugar in processed foods is a large contributor to hypertension than added salt.
More so, the study published in BMJ journal Open Heart argued that the guideline to limit salt intake is misguided and not based on evidence.
Even though the negative effect of salt is not proven, health experts still believe the consumption of salt and sugar should be regulated to avoid poor health.
The researchers studied humans and animals to see how sugar is worse than salt for blood pressure, hypertension, and heart disease.
DiNicolantonio and Lucan wrote, “Added sugars probably matter more than dietary sodium for hypertension, and fructose in particular may uniquely increase cardiovascular risk by inciting metabolic dysfunction and increasing blood pressure variability, myocardial oxygen demand, heart rate, and inflammation.”
The most recent version of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology lifestyle guidelines suggested no more than 2,400 mg of sodium a day to benefit blood pressure.
Though the authors agree salt intake from processed foods should be reduced, they also propose “that the benefits of such recommendations might have less to do with sodium – minimally related to blood pressure and perhaps even inversely related to cardiovascular risk – and more to do with highly-refined carbohydrates.”
After feeding sucrose to rats, the results showed that it stimulated the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This led to increased heart rate, renin secretion, renal sodium retention, and vascular resistance. All of these effects raised blood pressure.
The authors suggest “reducing consumption of added sugars by limiting processed foods containing them.”
FoodFacts.com feels like this is especially bad news for soda consumers — and sugary beverage consumers in general. There are people who drink multiple cans of soda every day. And there are folks that aren’t trying to gage the amount of added sugars in their diets at all. We all need to limit processed foods — if not make an earnest attempt to eliminate them from our diets completely. That is the only way we can be confident that we can avoid the risks of excessive sugar consumption. Changing our diets can prove to improve our health and lengthen our lives!