Researchers from the University of Colorado Denver surveyed more than 4,500 adults with no history of hypertension about their fructose intake between 2003 and 2006.
Fructose is naturally found in moderate amounts in some foods, such as fruit. It's also found in table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, two sweeteners found in excess in many processed foods, such as soft drinks.
Researchers found that on average, people consumed 74 grams of fructose per day, roughly the amount in four soft drinks. The more fructose their diet included, the more likely they were to have high blood pressure.
While their risk for high blood pressure could have been influenced by a variety of factors, such as obesity and disease, even after adjusting for all these factors, the odds of having high blood pressure increased in those whose fructose intake was above average. For the most severe form of high blood pressure, stage 2 hypertension, the odds were 77 percent higher for people with a high fructose intake.
Researchers point out that the real culprit is sweetened foods, such as soft drinks, not fruit. Getting fructose from fruit appears to be less of a problem, due in part to the fact that it also contains high amounts of antioxidants and fiber. Fruit has just 4 to 10 grams of fructose per serving, while a can of pop has 39 grams of high-fructose corn syrup, about half of which is fructose.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that too much fructose can have important health consequences, including high blood pressure.
The study appeared in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Click here for more information on high blood pressure from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, including tips on how to get your blood pressure in check.
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