Lower High Blood Pressure by Limiting Your Sugar Intake
Learn how cutting back on sugar will help lower blood pressure
There are now several studies confirming what I’ve observed for decades—that too much sugar will put you at a greater risk for developing heart disease than too much cholesterol. Yet, while Americans are very aware of the dangers of high cholesterol, few people are educated about just how harmful sugar can be. And one of the biggest dangers is how it can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension).
The Sugar–High Blood Pressure Connection
Researchers at Louisiana State University recently conducted an 18-month study on 810 people with either pre-hypertension or early hypertension. Their goal was to evaluate how exercise, weight loss, and diet affect blood pressure.
The results, which were published in the journal Circulation, found that cutting back on sugar lowered blood pressure. In fact, they found that overweight adults with high blood pressure who drank one less serving of sugary soda per day had a significant decline in blood pressure after 18 months. This is important because high blood pressure is a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke, and even moderate reductions in blood pressure readings can lower that risk.
Steps for Slashing Sugar Intake
To lower your sugar intake and thereby lower your blood pressure, try these four simple steps:
- Scout Out High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Use Natural Sweeteners
- Eat Several Small Meals
- Limit Alcohol Intake
1. Scout Out High Fructose Corn Syrup
Most of the sugar you eat is “hidden,” usually under the guise of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods. This corn-based sweetener is used in thousands of foods, from ketchup and tomato sauce to soft drinks and crackers, and it has specifically been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure. A team of researchers monitored more than 4,500 adults with no prior history of hypertension. Using a questionnaire, they found that people who ate or drank more than 74 grams of high fructose corn syrup daily (the amount in about two and a half regular soft drinks) had a 28 percent, 36 percent, and 87 percent higher risk for blood pressure levels of 135/85, 140/90, and 160/100, respectively. Normal is 120/80 or less. Do everything you can to avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
2. Use Natural Sweeteners
If you need to sweeten foods, add a little juice from oranges, grapes, pears, peaches, or other fruits. You can also use some shredded raw or dried apples, coconuts, raisins, or dates. Try sprinkling on cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg. You also may want to experiment with stevia, an herbal supplement that is now available as a sweetener.
3. Eat Several Small Meals
Start with breakfast, and include some protein at each sitting to keep yourself feeling satisfied. By eating little portions throughout the day, you will be less inclined to overload on sweets. As far as dessert is concerned, challenge your willpower. If you can’t resist, take a couple of bites—but no more.
4. Limit Alcohol Intake
This includes wine, beer, and liquor. Many people don’t realize that alcohol contains a large store of hidden sugar.
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Diet and Blood Pressure
What’s the best diet for high blood pressure? Learn how the Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) approach to eating can help lower your blood pressure.
Which specific foods can help lower blood pressure? Discover the foods that will improve your blood pressure reading the most.
Which specific seasonings can help lower your blood pressure? Find out how to season your meals to perfection and combat high blood pressure at the same time.
Does excess salt cause high blood pressure? Learn why you need to watch your salt intake to lower blood pressure.
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Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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