Fructose, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, has received plenty of negative press recently. Some studies show that a diet high in fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. If that's not troubling enough, a recent study showed a high fructose intake also increases the risk of high blood pressure in healthy people without hypertension.
HIGH FRUCTOSE FOODS AND THE RISK OF HYPERTENSION
In a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrologists, researchers looked at the fructose intake of 4528 healthy adults with normal blood pressures. They found among adults without hypertension, those who had a fructose intake of seventy-four grams of fructose daily or more were at higher risk for high blood pressure, even when other risk factors and dietary habits were taken into account.
How much is seventy-four grams of fructose a day? A quantity that thousands of people consume each day without even thinking about it. Seventy-four grams of fructose is the equivalent of drinking two-and-a-half soft drinks a day.
This raises the question – is the highly processed diet Americans eat and the soft drinks they consume the reason hypertension and heart disease is on the rise?
FOODS HIGH IN FRUCTOSE ARE EVERYWHERE
High fructose corn syrup is a common item found on supermarket shelves. Manufacturers produce the ingredient using enzymes that convert glucose into fructose. The resulting fructose sugar is then changed to a liquid by mixing it with corn syrup.
Companies prefer using high fructose corn syrup because it's inexpensive and good for the bottom line. In fact, the ingredient now accounts for about 40% of sweeteners used in the United States.
Soft drinks are one of the biggest sources of fructose intake in the American diet – but far from the only one. Other common sources of high fructose corn syrup are packaged condiments, salad dressings, cereals, yogurt, candy bars and other packaged foods.
WHY ARE HIGH FRUCTOSE FOODS AND BEVERAGES SO BAD?
One researcher found soft drinks with fructose contain highly reactive chemicals called carbonyls. Carbonyls are compounds that are often elevated in people with diabetes. These unhealthy compounds are believed to be responsible for some of the complications people with longstanding diabetes experience such as heart disease and kidney disease.
Because carbonyls are so unstable and reactive, it's easy for them to attach to tissues, and cause damage. It's not clear whether carbonyls account for all of the damage associated with high fructose foods and beverages, or whether they're responsible for the increased risk of hypertension in people who have a high fructose intake, but it certainly raises questions.
OTHER PROBLEMS WITH HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
As if heart disease and high blood pressure aren't sufficient motivation to avoid high fructose corn syrup, they aren't the only downsides. This ubiquitous sweetener is linked with obesity and elevated triglycerides, which may partially explain their link to heart disease.
FRUCTOSE INTAKE AND HYPERTENSION: THE BOTTOM LINE?
An increased risk of hypertension is another potential problem of eating high fructose foods and drinking soft drinks. There is also a higher risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. The best course of action to take is avoiding foods containing high fructose corn syrup, as much as possible, until science decides what the dangers are presented by this common sweetener.
Urgent Clinics Medical Care is available 7 days a week and provides complimentary blood glucose and blood pressure evaluation services. Our healthcare professionals give you testing results and offer explanations of the outcome. No appointment is necessary at any of our clinics which are open 8 am to 9 pm daily and are conveniently located in Champions Forest, The Woodlands and 3 locations in League City: Creekside, Marina Bay and Tuscan Lakes. Our Pearland Clinic is open 8 am to midnight 7 days a week.
Medscape.com website. "High Fructose Intake Linked to Higher Blood Pressure" Accessed 06/19/10.
Science Daily website. "Soda Warning? High-Fructose Corn Syrup Linked To Diabetes, New Study Suggests" Accessed 06/19/10.
Clin Chem Lab Med. 2003 Sep;41(9):1150-8.
Physiol Res. 2010;59(2):147-56. Epub 2009 Jun 19.