Fructose found to rapidly raise blood pressure and induce metabolic syndrome in men

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Last month, one of my blogs focused on a paper from the American Heart Association which warned of the hazards of eating sugar on cardiovascular health. It put at least some focus on the sugar fructose, which makes up half of table sugar (sucrose), as well as being found in fruit and vegetables, honey and foods containing (obviously) the sweetening agent known as ‘high fructose corn syrup’. Fructose has traditionally enjoyed a healthy reputation, related to the fact that it does not raise blood sugar levels in the short term, and is also found naturally in foods such as fruit. However, mounting evidence suggests that it has the potential to induce seriously unhealthy changes in the body.

By way of example, today I am writing about a study presented this week at the American heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research Conference in Chicago, USA [1]. In this study, 74 men (average age 74) were fed 200 g of fructose on top of their normal diet. Half of these men were also treated with the drug allopurinol ” used to prevent gout because of its ability to reduce levels of uric acid. The active part of this study last just two weeks.

In the men eating additional fructose without concomitant allopurinol treatment, blood pressure rose significantly (6 and 3 mmHg in systolic and diastolic pressure respectively).

At the beginning of the study, 19 per cent of these men fulfilled criteria qualifying them for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome (a condition characterised by a range of potential issues including excess weight around the midriff, high blood pressure, raised blood sugar and raised levels of blood fats known as triglycerides). At the end of the study, this figure had risen to 44 per cent (in just two weeks, remember). Notable changes were rises in triglyceride levels, insulin levels and measures of insulin resistance, as well as lowering in supposedly ‘healthy’ HDL levels.

Men treated with allopurinol saw no increase in blood pressure ” suggesting that allopurinal can mitigate against at least some of the toxic effects of fructose.

The 200 g of daily fructose used in this study is a large dose (apparently, the estimated average daily intake in the USA is 50- 70 g). However, it’s useful to remember that this is an average, and it is likely that significant numbers of people will be consuming way in excess of 100 g of fructose each day. And also, it’s worth bearing in mind that fructose was fed to individuals for just two weeks. It is possible that lower doses of fructose in the longer turn might turn out to be similarly damaging.

Clearly, what this study does demonstrate, again, is that fructose poses significant hazards for health, and is something that needs to be consumed with caution. The real issue here is almost certainly not the carrots or piece or two of fruit we might eat each day, but the sources of fructose added many processed foods and, in particularly, sugary soft drinks.


1. Perez-Pozo S, et al “Excessive fructose intake raises blood pressure in humans” AHA Blood Pressure Research Conference 2009; Abstract P127.

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