Eating too much sugar can lead to obesity, and weight gain can contribute to high blood pressure—that’s been known for years now.
But the latest research shows that the sweet stuff can affect blood pressure in an entirely different way, independent of its effect on weight. Scientists from University of Otago in New Zealand reviewed several randomized controlled trials that looked at sugar’s effect on blood pressure, and concluded that not only does sugar help pack on the pounds, but it independently impacts blood pressure and lipids.
The study is one of the first to connect this one-two punch from sugar among people eating average diets—the participants were not provided measured amounts of sugar by the researchers but rather reported on how much sugar they consumed as part of their daily diet. It’s easy to underestimate how much sugar we eat, since it can hide in processed foods and add up.
“Although the effects of sugars on blood pressure and lipids are relatively modest, our findings support public health recommendations to reduce added sugar in our diets as one of the measures which might be expected to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular diseases,” said lead study author Dr. Lisa Te Morenga in a statement. The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.