A sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. So says a major study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The average American gets 10% of their calories from sugar. But even worse… 10% of people get a up to 25% of their calories from added sugar!
Despite experts sounding the alarm about this horrendously toxic substance over forty years ago, Big Sugar has managed to deceive the public into believing otherwise (it certainly helps that most of the world is addicted to their product).
In 1972, a doctor named John Yudkin wrote that “if only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned.” Shortly thereafter, Yudkin’s career was destroyed by the food industry, and business carried on as usual.
But the winds have shifted, and today fewer and fewer people try to maintain the lie of sugar’s healthfulness. This change reopened a number of cases that mainstream medicine once deemed closed. For example, the claim that fat causes obesity and heart disease no longer holds much water—research overwhelmingly demonstrates that sugar is really to blame for this epidemics.
Researchers are also reexamining the risk factors of hypertension and high blood pressure, which effects one third of all Americans over the age of 20.
For decades, doctors have blamed high blood pressure on poor lifestyle choices, including the consumption of a high-sodium diet. While they were right to point the finger at unhealthy lifestyle factors (e.g. physical inactivity, smoking, and alcohol use), new research demonstrates that blame should be shifted from salt to sugar.
Steer clear of sugar (and eat these hypertension-healing foods instead)
The evidence condemning sugar is clear and undeniable—so much so that nutritionists are shocked that the truth about our beloved sweetener was ignored for so long.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming sugary foods for just two months or more can raise systolic blood pressure by 6.9mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 5.6mmHg, on average.
And it seems that sugary drinks (most of which are sweetened with fructose) are in some ways even worse—another study found that sweetened beverage drinkers automatically increase their hypertension risk by 12%, and that every extra serving increases the risk by another 8.2%.
So the message is clear: if you want to protect yourself against hypertension, you need to eliminate (or at least minimize) your intake of processed sugars, processed foods with added sugar, and sugary sodas and drinks.
Replace soda with fruit juice spritzers (just add a splash of juice to sparking water), or better yet, just drink more water.
1. Beet Juice Nitric oxide found in beets acts as a signaling molecule, gives signals to the cells in your arteries, telling them to soften and relax. This action greatly improves vasodilation, which reduces blood pressure.
Most of the research focuses on beetroot juice supplementation. A 2013 review looked at the results of 16 clinical trials on the topic, and found that beetroot juice intake reduces blood pressure by 4-10 mm Hg in just a few hours.
2. Coconut water in particular has been shown to be incredibly hypertension-healing: participants in one study decreased their systolic blood pressure by 71%, and their diastolic blood pressure by 29%, in just two weeks.
3. Pomegranate juice also shows great promise (be careful with drinking other fruit juices, though, as they tend to be very high in sugar). One study showed that regular consumption can decrease systolic blood pressure by 12% or more. And as we discussed in another article, pomegranates have all sorts of other health benefits too.
And while you’re working on cutting out those sugary snacks and processed foods, consider replacing them with these superfoods, all of which work wonders for hypertension…
4. Turmeric reverses hypertension by thinning the blood, flooding the body with beneficial antioxidants, reducing systemic inflammation, and by healing the underlying arterial imbalances that lead to high blood pressure in the first place.
5. Chocolate has been shown to have a marked effect on hypertension—even a single square, consumed every day for 18 weeks, reduced systolic pressure by 2.9 mmHg and diastolic pressure by 1.9 mmHg (and the drops were even greater from larger quantities). Just make sure you choose the darkest chocolate possible (ideally unsweetened, raw cacao).
6. Cinnamon. As we covered in another article, cinnamon is one seriously healing spice. In one study, patients who took two grams of cinnamon daily experienced a significant blood pressure drop in just twelve weeks.
7. Hypertension-healing fruits. Last but not least, don’t think that cutting out processed sugar means that you can’t have fruit. While fruit consumption is best balanced with fats and protein, it’s still a perfectly healthy part of a balanced diet. Blueberries, kiwis, concord grapes, and watermelon have all been shown to decrease blood pressure and support healthy arterial function.
Your Diet is Only the Start
Of course, many other factors influence blood pressure too. These include physical activity, adequate sleep, sun exposure, meditation, and other stress-management practices. In the end, however, the majority of these link back to diet. What goes into your mouth is certainly the most influential factor at play.