High fructose corn syrup: A recipe for hypertension

A diet high in fructose increases the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology's 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, California. The findings suggest that cutting back on processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may help prevent hypertension.

Over the last 200 years, the rate of fructose intake has directly paralleled the increasing rate of obesity, which has increased sharply in the last 20 years since the introduction of HFCS. Today, Americans consume 30% more fructose than 20 years ago and up to four times more than 100 years ago, when rates were less than 5%. While this increase mirrors the dramatic rise in the prevalence of , studies have been inconsistent in linking excess fructose in the diet to hypertension.

Diana Jalal, MD (University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center), and her colleagues studied the issue in a large representative population of US adults. They examined 4,528 adults 18 years of age or older with no prior history of hypertension. Fructose intake was calculated based on a dietary questionnaire, and foods such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products, and candy were included. Dr. Jalal's team found that people who ate or drank more than 74 grams per day of fructose (2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) increased their risk of developing hypertension. Specifically, a diet of more than 74 grams per day of fructose led to a 28%, 36%, and 87% higher risk for levels of 135/85, 140/90, and 160/100 mmHg, respectively. (A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg.)

"These results indicate that high fructose intake in the form of added sugars is significantly and independently associated with higher blood pressure levels in the US adult population with no previous history of hypertension," the authors concluded. Additional studies are needed to see if low fructose diets can normalize blood pressure and prevent the development of hypertension.

Study co-authors include Richard Johnson, MD, Gerard Smits, PhD, and Michel Chonchol, MD (University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center). Dr. Richard Johnson reports a conflict of interest as the author of "The Sugar Fix". The authors report no other financial disclosures.

Source: American Society of Nephrology (news : web)

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Oct 30, 2009
High-fructose corn syrup, the main replacement for table sugar is 55% fructose 45% glucose.
Table sugar is 50/50.
You may be able to blame all the ills on added calories, but blaming fructose is ridiculous.

Oct 30, 2009
HIgh fructose corn syrup is different metabolically than sucrose, raising triglycerides and activating other quite adverse processes. Some of the data is a little murky, but it's still alarming. And with the U.S. dialysis population (half due to diabetes) rising by 8% yearly, this is a huge problem. Just look at groups of our school kids (how many appear obese?) compared to the groups of school kids one sees in 1940's Lassie movies where only one is obese. It's probably not just the calories alone, though that is certainly a problem.

Oct 30, 2009
Metabolically different?????
Corn syrup is 55% fructose, 45% glucose.
Table sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose.
How anyone can believe this is the cause of pediatric obesity is hard to understand.

Oct 30, 2009
tpb: Are you an enzymologist?
Are you a dietician?
If you are not..
How can you say that the difference between sucrose (table sugar) and a fructose/corn syrup combinationg (high-fructose corn syrup) are _not_ metabolically different?

Your body breaks down sugars in different ways. In fact, sucrose is broken down into fructose and glucose (via the enzyme sucrase), and then broken down into further metabolites. Fructose is not as readily adsorbed by your small intestine as glucose is. Fructose is more often digested by bacteria in the large intestine and its metabolites are taken into the blood stream. It is possible that all these differences between glucose and fructose, and taking into consideration the differences in HFCS and table sugar, account for issues with obesity.

I would suggest you look into how these different molecules react in your body before posting ludicrous statements.

Oct 30, 2009
moj85: I do tend to agree with you but there are two points I would like to understand better:

First, there is little difference chemically between these sugars. Is this small difference enough to make such a big difference metabolically?

Second, has there ever been an animal (or human) study where one set had a high fructose diet and one set had a "normal" sugar diet? Same amount of sugar in both.

In my mind HFCS is probably a big part of the problem. The other part is that the low cost of HFCS makes it an attactive food ingredient. Since its cheaper the food industry tends to feed more of it to us. In the end we would probably be better off eating less sugar.

Oct 30, 2009
there is little difference chemically between these sugars

Fructose : C6H12O6
Sucrose : C12H22O11

As you can see, actually a big chemical difference here... of course they are both carbohydrates, but have different properties in metabolism.

Oct 30, 2009
A big metabolic difference between table sugar (sucrose) and HFCS is that HFCS is a mixture of two monosaccharides, while sucrose is a fairly pure (usually 99%) disaccharide. While it's true that the base sugars are the same in both, and are present in roughly equal amounts in both, when in the form of sucrose, the two base sugars (glucose and fructose) are bound together with a glycosidic bond that require a slightly acidic environment and the enzymatic action of sucrase to be broken apart for use in metabolic processes.

The need for this enzymatic action with sucrose gives the body the ability to regulate its rate of sugar absorption. Straight up glucose and fructose are absorbed directly through the epithelial tissues of the digestive system, beginning with the mouth. Your body has no way to control the "spike" of sugar you get into your blood with HFCS, while there is a moderating effect on sugar absorption with table sugar.

Oct 30, 2009
Continued to add: it is this "spike" in blood sugar that the liver and pancreas respond to, and begin spitting out hormones to tell the body to start stockpiling all that energy up by turning it into fat, and thus clearing out the blood of excess sugar fairly quickly. Because blood sugar levels return to normal and often drop below normal fairly quickly, the processes of the body that would boost metabolism aren't triggered.

Blood sugar profiles of sucrose consumption, however are much more like a rounded hill. They don't get as high, but they stay high longer. Because they don't get as high, the liver and pancreas don't overstimulate fat production as badly, and because they last longer, physiological processes that boost metabolism in the presence of greater food availability get a chance to kick in.

All of this changes somewhat depending on the food the sugar is in. And this is not to say that HFCS is entirely bad. Maybe it just shouldn't used as a popular drink sweetener.

Oct 30, 2009
Here's an interesting link about the differences between fructose and glucose...High fructose corn syrup is not much different than maple syrup except that it is processed from corn vs maple sap. Sugar in almost any form is getting a bad rap it seems from all sides. I haven't seen any rigorous evidence that proves conclusively one way or the other that any of it is bad for you. Follow the money. Who stands to gain from the flap? Seems we have been sucked into the "Create a problem, Instigate a reaction, then propose a solution" theme of advertising commonly currently being practiced. Where does the hype end and real science begin?


Oct 30, 2009
I don't see what's so hard to understand.
I never said there isn't a difference between fructose and glucose.
I said there is virtually no difference between corn-syrup and table sugar since regardless of which sweetener is used, they both have fructose and glucose in nearly equal amounts.

Oct 31, 2009
High-fructose corn syrup, the main replacement for table sugar is 55% fructose 45% glucose.
Table sugar is 50/50.
You may be able to blame all the ills on added calories, but blaming fructose is ridiculous.

The damage is caused when the food industries over use it. It's in everything. 5% may not sound like alot, until it becomes 5% of your entire diet.

Nov 01, 2009
The problem with HFCS is that it's in everything! It's in food that never used to have the stuff.

Companies use it as a cheap alternative to real sugar and it's a disgrace really, there's nothing wrong with sugar, they decided to try and save their own bottom line by buying this cheap imitation crap.

That's why I only purchase from companies that use real sugar, and to be honest, with these new plant-extract sweeteners I don't see how anyone can use the man-made sweeteners any more, Splenda, Equal, it's all crap and will cause cancer if used all the time.

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