Sugar Consumption and Blood Pressure

In some people, sugar-rich foods indirectly cause high blood pressure. This means you need to reduce sugar consumption and eat foods that modulate sugar absorption by slowing its entry into the bloodstream.

Most adults consume 130 pounds of sugar per year—that’s a heaping (to overflowing) 6-ounce glass full of sugar each day! Though many people will protest that they don’t eat that much sugar, surveys have shown that two-thirds of that sugar consumption is hidden in processed foods.

For example, an 8-ounce soft drink contains almost seven teaspoons of sugar. Bread, desserts, and fast foods contain sugar. It is everywhere, even in salami, which is loaded with sugar.

Both complex and some simple carbohydrates are molecularly more complex than simple sugar. Most carbohydrates contain either fructose or glucose, two of the most common simple sugars in nature.

Grains or starches, complex carbohydrates, usually contain glucose. Fructose is a simple sugar that makes fruits sweet. Your body and especially the brain need glucose to function.

The problem with eating sugar alone and not part of a complex food, like fruits, vegetables, or grains, is that it crosses the intestinal tract quickly and elevates blood sugar.

When you eat candy, or a sugary soft drink, the surge in your blood sugar causes a surge in insulin output, which contributes to sodium retention and elevated blood pressure.

The best way to eliminate the problem is to obtain the glucose your brain and body need from simple carbohydrates (fruit) and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, grains, and cereals).

The advantage of both complex and simple carbohydrates is that they get broken down slowly in your digestive system and the glucose enters the bloodstream gradually. To be technical, its absorption is modulated.

Modulated absorption of glucose or fructose produces a markedly reduced insulin response. And our objective is achieved! Fiber, also called roughage, is the indigestible carbohydrate material found in plant foods.

Although in a strict sense fiber is not a nutrient because it passes through the system and is not absorbed into the blood, it is one of the most important nutritional components in food.

Fiber performs many essential functions on its way through the alimentary canal. Fiber binds simple sugars. This binding causes the sugars to be released slowly as food moves through the intestinal tract.

This modulation in the release of sugar results in a lower insulin output by the pancreas after a meal that is high in sugar. Modulating insulin output is essential to your objective of reducing blood pressure without medication.

Fiber does even more; it binds other dietary components such as fat, cholesterol, and even bile acids. All this reduces blood cholesterol. In fact, a high-fiber diet, especially one containing soluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and some grains and cereals, lowers blood cholesterol significantly.

Emphasizing foods rich in complex carbohydrates and increasing fiber in your diet can be achieved by eating lots of vegetables, grains, and fruits.

Indeed, for most people, this means shifting toward a more vegetarian diet and eating less meat and fewer processed foods. This emphasis translates into a breakfast that allows many cereals, for example, oatmeal without salt, shredded wheat, or raisin bran.

But avoid all sugared ready-to-eat cereals. If your usual breakfast consists of eggs and bacon, you can still have the eggs, just no bacon, and you’ll still have room for cereal. The ideal breakfast is cereal with milk and fruit.

Lunch should be light and should consist of vegetables, fruit, and grains. Sandwiches can cause trouble unless the bread is low in sodium and the sandwich contains generous amounts of lettuce, tomato, avocado, and other vegetables.

Have fish, vegetables, and a salad with a low-sodium dressing sometimes for lunch. Dinner affords the widest options. Emphasize vegetables and starches, such as potatoes and rice.

Pasta is always good with the correct sauce, for example, tomato, pesto, and even an occasional cream sauce. Include a low-fat protein, such as poultry or fish. Try fruit for dessert.

Obviously, sugary foods and snacks must be eliminated; avoid sugared soft drinks, candy, and sweet rolls. Although there is no direct evidence that sugar substitutes aid weight loss, they are fine here if your objective is to reduce sugar.

Artificial sweeteners can serve you well if you like to sweeten your food or enjoy soft drinks. Just don’t delude yourself into believing you can eat more food as a reward; rather, see it as a tool to help reduce your insulin production.