Could sugar be more to blame for high blood pressure than salt? That’s the question posed by researchers from Kansas City and New York.
Whilst excess salt in the diet has been most commonly linked with high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), evidence from the latest study calls this link into question. The researchers state that the link between salt and high blood pressure is oversimplified and overstated, with the relationship between salt and hypertension being more complex than previously thought.
The researchers reviewed data from 8,760 French adults and found no statistically significant association between salt intake alone and high blood pressure. The researchers point out, that those that had hypertension were consuming more salt but that other factors such as age, BMI and alcohol were also involved.
The key point is that an unhealthy diet based around processed food is likely to contain more salt, but simply removing the salt will not be enough to reduce blood pressure.
In terms of reducing risk of high blood pressure, the study showed that consumption of fruit and vegetables was associated with lower risk of hypertension.
The researchers suggest that focusing on reducing salt intake might do the opposite of discouraging reliance on processed food and could instead cause the public to abandon home cooking.
Researcher Dr DiNicolantonio states: “We argue the opposite a reduction in salt intake may lead to an increased intake in processed foods (and added sugars) and thereby increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.”
Rather than focusing on salt, which can be healthily used in cooking, guidelines would be better to focus on cutting down on intake of processed foods which have are usually based around highly refined carbohydrate, with added sugars and very little fibre.

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