There are now several studies confirming 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 how harmful sugar can be. One of the biggest dangers is how it can be a cause for high blood pressure (hypertension).
Research Shows Sugar is a Cause for High Blood Pressure
Researchers at Louisiana State University analyzed the results of the 18-month PREMIER Study which was conducted on 810 people with prehypertension or stage I hypertension. Their goal was to evaluate how sugar sweetened beverages affected blood pressure.
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The results, which were published in the journal Circulation, found that cutting back on sugar will reduce blood pressure. In fact, they found that those who drank one less serving of sugary beverages per day had a measurable 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.
Tips for Avoiding Sugar to Reduce High Blood Pressure
To lower your sugar intake and thereby reduce your high blood pressure, try these four simple steps:
1. Lower Your High Fructose Corn Syrup Intake
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 sauces to soft drinks and crackers. Research heavily suggests it is a cause for 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 mmHg, 140/90 mmHg, and 160/100 mmHg, respectively. Normal blood pressure levels are 120/80 mmHg or less. Do everything you can to avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup in order to reduce your high blood pressure.
2. Use Natural Sweeteners to Reduce High Blood Pressure
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 available as a sweetener.
3. Eat Several Small Meals and Avoid Snacking
Start with breakfast, and include some protein at each meal to keep yourself feeling satisfied. By eating little portions throughout the day, you will be less inclined to overload on sweets that cause high blood pressure. 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.