October 29, 2009
Fructose Causes High Blood Pressure?

Beware a diet high in fructose.

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 obesity rates were less than 5%. While this increase mirrors the dramatic rise in the prevalence of hypertension, studies have been inconsistent in linking excess fructose in the diet to hypertension.

Fructose is starting to look like a more plausible villain than fat. Perhaps Diane Keaton in Sleeper was right to praise "Deep fat".

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 blood pressure levels of 135/85, 140/90, and 160/100 mmHg, respectively. (A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg.)

I've gradually become more concerned about fructose. Robert H. Lustig, MD, a UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, takes a look at the harms that come from excessive fructose consumption. Note that he says we are eating an order of magnitude more fructose than our ancestors did historically.

Is high fructose consumption from high fructose corn syrup and sucrose sugar responsible for the obesity epidemic? He says our ancestors got about 15 grams per day. Well, a medium sized apple has about 10 grams. So 2 apples will give you more fructose than most of our ancestors consumed. Our bodies are probably not well adapted to handle 150 grams of fructose per day.

Anyone know of a good detailed list of fructose levels in various foods? I've only found short lists of fructose levels in foods.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 October 29 11:00 PM  Aging Diet Heart Studies

Mthson said at October 30, 2009 12:14 AM:

I wonder if vegetables are closer than modern fruits to our evolutionary diet because we've bred fruits to be so sweet.

Randall Parker said at October 30, 2009 8:01 PM:


I'd really like to be able to buy older varieties of apples. But my local grocery store only sells the sweetest varieties.

PacRim Jim said at October 30, 2009 9:39 PM:

Be careful about this ideologue. His speech is larded with lies. For example, he blames Richard Nixon--ooh, scary kids!--for most everything bad in U.S. food policy, such as the War on Poverty. The War on Poverty was actually a Democrat program started under LBJ in the mid 1960s. Unfortunately, his politicization of medicine vitiates his message, whatever its merits.
A true believer, indeed.

Randall Parker said at October 31, 2009 1:49 PM:

PacRim Jim,

Yes, blaming Earl Butz and Richard Nixon for too much fructose in the American diet is ridiculous. But if you ignore his political ranting I think the lecture is useful.

sookie said at November 3, 2009 2:45 AM:

This seems to be a fairly comprehensive list


@ Randall, How do you place much value on the words of a rant. Sometimes the messenger gets in the way of the message.

Randall Parker said at November 3, 2009 5:26 PM:


That page you link to has the foods normalized to units of mg fructose per 200 calorie serving. I'm looking for grams per 100 gram serving. Is there a way to make the size sort by fructose per 100 grams? The 200 calorie unit does not indicate how much of the food you have to eat. The 100 gram serving does.

Still, quite useful. One can click thru on the details of some of the links on that page and click on Carbohydrates Details and get the mg. So 240 grams of ketchup (1 cup) has 22 grams of fructose. How unfortunate. By contrast, a cup of tomatoes has only 3 grams of fructose as does a cup of strawberries or a cup of onions. A cup of blueberries has 7 grams as does a cup of cherries.

Ranter Lustig also shows you biochemical pathways in the liver. Ignore his political biases. What he says about fructose in human metabolism is consistent with other stuff I'm reading about it.

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