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Diet High in Sugar and/or Fat Associated With High Insulin and Hypertension

Patients with highest fasting insulin had almost threefold higher risk of hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy.

A healthy diet has always been recommended by doctors for their diabetes patients. Most people are aware that a high-sugar and/or high-fat diet is unhealthy. Not only because a high-sugar diet could increase insulin levels, but because the higher the fat content of the diet, the higher the blood glucose levels could be.

Recently, researchers found out eating a diet high in sugar and/or fat was likely to increase insulin levels and was linked with a risk of hypertension. This finding was presented in an oral abstract session at Obesity Week 2015 by Dr. Barbara Gower from the Department of Nutrition Science, University of Alabama.

This cross-sectional and observational study retrieved data from 13,528 nondiabetic participants with a mean age of 64.5 who lived in the continental United States. Researchers analyzed the data from the Block 98 Food Questionnaire taken by the participants. There were five food patterns showing in the participants, such as convenience, plant-based, sweets/fat, southern, and alcohol or salad. By using logistic regression method, they accessed the association between insulin levels and hypertension or left ventricular hypertrophy.

The results showed participants who eat “sweets/fat” or “southern” food were more likely to have high insulin. Surprisingly, those with highest fasting insulin had an almost threefold higher risk of having hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy.

In conclusion, our findings suggest that a high intake of fructose of ≥74 g/d (corresponding to 2.5 sugary soft drinks per day), in the form of table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, is independently associated with a greater risk for elevated SBP levels in the adult U.S. population with no history of hypertension. These findings support the hypothesis that increased intake of fructose may result in hypertension through a variety of mechanisms. Limiting fructose intake is readily feasible, and, in light of our results, prospective studies are needed to assess whether decreased intake of fructose from added sugars will reduce the incidence of hypertension and the burden of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. adult population.

Practice Pearls:

  • A cross-sectional and observational study accessed the relationship between insulin levels and hypertension or left ventricular hypertrophy in nondiabetic participants.
  • Researchers found eating a diet high in sugar and/or fat would likely increase insulin levels and was linked with a risk of hypertension.
  • These findings support the hypothesis that increased intake of fructose may result in hypertension through a variety of mechanisms.
  1. Obesity Week 2015; Los Angeles, CA. Abstract T-OR-2108, presented November 3, 2015.L 1. Hajjar I, Kotchen TA. “Trends in prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension in the United States, 1988–2000.” JAMA 290: 199–206, 2003 [PubMed]:
  2. Johnson RJ, Segal MS, Sautin Y, Nakagawa T, Feig DI, Kang DH, Gersch MS, Benner S, Sanchez-Lozada LG.: “Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.” Am J Clin Nutr 86: 899–906, 2007 [PubMed]