Most of us know eating too much sodium—something most Americans do by far—greatly raises the risk for high blood pressure, among other serious health conditions (which is why this year, the FDA finally will launch an initiative to reduce sodium in the U.S. food products over the next decade).
But it’s not just salt, according to newly published research. It’s also eating a diet too high in fructose, a simple sugar that's a key component in table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These sugars are now added in massive quantities to soft drinks, yogurt, manufactured breads and cookies, salad dressing, and other processed foods and drinks.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center found that among 4,528 adults ages 18 or older, those who consumed 74 grams or more per day of fructose (the equivalent of 2.5 sugary sodas) had increased risk for high blood pressure, ranging from 26 percent (for 135/85 mmHG) to 77 percent (for 60/100 mmHg) higher. Blood pressure levels under 120/80 mmHG are considered normal.
Children who consume high levels of fructose also may have more abdominal obesity and less insulin sensitivity, according to another study presented in June at the Endocrine Society's Annual Meeting. A large waistline raises the risk for heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes, which is considered a growing epidemic for U.S. children and teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.