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Thursday
Feb112010

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Blood Pressure

Here's another reason to watch out for high fructose corn syrup (HCFS), the ubiquitous, cheap, sweetener used in soft drinks and a wide range of processed foods such as salad dressings, ketchup, jams, jellies, ice cream, even bread. In addition to promoting weight gain, it may also raise your blood pressure. Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center queried more than 4,500 adults, age 18 and up, about their eating habits. Then, the investigators calculated their study participants' consumption of HCFS by looking at the amount of fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products and candy they reported eating daily. The researchers found that individuals who ate or drank more than 74 grams of HCFS per day (the amount found in 2.5 servings of sugary soft drinks) were at increased risk of developing hypertension and that HCFS is "significantly and independently associated with higher blood pressure" in adults with no previous history of hypertension. More studies will be needed to see if cutting down on HCFS consumption can bring blood pressure back to normal.

My take? HCFS is a contributor to the obesity epidemic, may have disruptive effects on metabolism, and appears to elevate triglycerides (blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease) in men (but not women). Avoiding foods containing HCFS will benefit your health and  help control your weight - and, it now appears, your blood pressure.

More information on lowering high blood pressure.

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Reader Comments (5)

Is the issue HFCS, or is it simply that those studied have unhealthy eating habits? That is to say, would the results have been any different if all of the said products contained cane sugar instead of HFCS?

February 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Hello
As Dr. Weil says My take? HCFS is a contributor to the obesity epidemic, may have disruptive effects on metabolism, and appears to elevate triglycerides (blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease) in men (but not women).
The changes to metabolism seem to be a key. Do you have any other information on that?

February 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermoderator44@drweil.com

There are likely significant bias in this study like the previous comment maybe
these participants just have poor diet, I will read the study and then comment again but
a prospective study eliminating all the confounders would be useful

February 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

In my opinion, as a registered dietitian, observational studies are relevant when repeated studies over a long period of time report the same findings. This one study, with no clinical controls, is not the basis for definitive conclusions. Furthermore, on October 30, 2009, the American Society of Nephrology issued a correction title (of the article mentioned) with comments that reflected “increased intake of fructose from collective sources of added sugar including…candy, honey, jam, syrup and dried fruits…” At the end of the day, a sugar is a sugar is a sugar; and moderation is always the key.
As for obesity, the American Medical Association concluded in June 2008 that “high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.” The bottom line is that excess consumption of any type of calories will contribute to weight gain. A lack of physical activity compounds the issue. Balancing food intake with activity is my consistent message in my work as a consultant with the food industry and teaching university students.

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPat Baird, MA, RD

I believe the majority of people do not read labels to see what they are eating--young and old. They are just in a hurry to get through the day--getting kids to their school/sports, going to work, marketing, etc. The food industry (in general) is taking advantage of us to make a profit. Education is key...and Dr Weil is providing that to us who are more conscious of what we eat, where it's from, and what pesticides/preservatives are in it. I try to educate my friends but, frankly, the majority of them turn a blind eye and just want to eat what they want to eat--fast food, pizza, and other unhealthy foods. I'm trying to teach my 36-yr-old neighbor how to cook--she has two small children and they are eating all the typical chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. I applaud Mrs. Obama for focusing on children's food/health...it is about time we change what they are eating! Thank you Dr Weil...you are our health advocate and educator!

February 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha

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