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Sugar And High Blood Pressure

Sugar and high blood pressure are linked, and that’s why any reasonable anti-hypertensive diet restricts sugar intake. Sugar is addictive, though, and addiction to sugar one of the toughest ones to fight.  But sugars (or carbs) are different – so what kind of sugar should you watch in order to lower your blood pressure?


Bird stealing sugar
Bird stealing sugar – cafe in Costa Rica


I will tell you right away, scientists all agree that we eat more sugar than needed, and that eliminating or reducing sugar to a bare minimum helps to lower blood pressure.

They disagree on what kind of sugar to attack first and how much sugar to eat.

For example, Dr. Mercola recommends to take less than 15 grams of fructose per day. Dr. Mercola is  known for his position that a healthy diet includes more fat, more lean proteins, and eliminates all sources of carbs such as bread, pasta, grains, and limits daily fruit intake to either two bananas or two dates.

On the other side of the spectrum is Dr. Ornish’s diet that allows for an unlimited amount of unprocessed whole fruit and grains and severely limits fats, no matter the source.  Its result in weight loss and associated lower blood pressure is well documented.

In between is the DASH diet with its 4-5 portions of fruit per day. Here is what 4-5 portions of fruit per day amount to, four or five of these:

  • 1/2 cup (4 fluid oz.) 100% fruit juice
  • 1 medium fruit
  • 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit

Dr. Mercola’s advice is to watch simple carbs, especially fructose.

The connection between fructose and high blood pressure is well established. Let’s see how much fructose is too much and what can be done to eliminate it from your diet.

Facts first: An average American consumes 70 grams of fructose per day.

A study looking at the connection between sugar an high blood pressure has discovered that those consuming 74 or more grams of fructose per day carries a 77% greater risk of high blood pressure hitting the dangerous level of 160/100 mmHg.  Their chances of blood pressure to go over 140/90 was 30% higher.

Why fructose?  Dr. Mercola suggests that the way the body breaks it down, its waste products inhibit the production of nitric oxide, a gas that improves blood vessel elasticity.

So it is recommended that people consume less than 25 grams of fructose per day. People with blood pressure problems should consume less than 15 grams per day.

So, Dr. Mercola recommends no more than 1/3 cup of raisins, two bananas or tow Medjool dates per day.

The DASH Diet includes very little fructose, and the recommended source of it is whole foods – fruit. Otherwise, it allows for less than a teaspoon of sugar per day. Still, the 2000 calorie DASH diet will allow twice the amount of fruit than Dr. Mercola recommends and it insists on 6-8 portions of grain, too.

I am not a doctor and cannot give you advice on what to do. I just go with my instincts. Surely, it is great if you can reduce sugar to the minimum level. However, some fruit contains other nutrients that lower blood pressure. In additon,  the DASH diet is a very well documented and tested dietary approach that is proven to lower blood pressure.

And if you think about it, when you limit your sugar to less than a teaspoon a day as the DASH diet requires, and only eat a few fruit or dates, it is very likely that your overall sugar intake will go down significantly. If you switch from packaged foods to home cooked meals, you will eliminate the dangerous high-fructose syrup that is sneakily included in more packaged foods than you can imagine.

There are studies of all kinds, sponsored by the industries with vested interests in having consumers reduce intakes of some foods and increase intakes of others – or replace them with drugs.

You choose whom to believe.  Just choose a change and stick to it for 2-3 weeks. Your body will respond to changes in the diet.

You don’t have to go cold turkey though. As Dr. Ornish recommends, you can reduce intake of some foods and increase intake of others,  give it two-three weeks, and see whether it helps. If it doesn’t, perhaps you need to make more radical changes. Try it and see if it helps. Very often, patients on a low-fat vegan diet, for example, saw such dramatic improvements in their health so fast that they became angry at their doctors. Why? Because doctors had no problems recommending heart surgery, but many of them would not venture to recommend extreme dietary changes for fear that the patient would not accept them.

Try to follow the DASH diet or Dr. Ornish’s diet for 2-3 weeks  faithfully. They are both proven to lower blood pressure and improve hearth health. Weight loss is a bonus :) .



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