Should You Skip Sugar Or Salt For Your Heart Health?

Both sugar and salt have gotten bad publicity over the years, at least as far as a healthy diet is concerned. Sugary food consumption has been linked to diabetes and obesity, while excessive intake of salt and salty foods has been associated with cardiovascular illnesses, particularly high blood pressure. However, a recent study puts sugar in an even worse light, as it claims that sugar may increase blood pressure more than salt does.

High Blood Pressure: Skip Salt Or Sugar?

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of premature mortality in the developed world, and hypertension is its most important risk factor.

Hypertension was implicated as a primary or contributing factor in more than 348,000 deaths in the US in 2009, with costs to the nation in excess of $50 billion annually. Controlling hypertension is a major focus of public health initiatives, and dietary approaches to address hypertension have historically focused on sodium.

Nonetheless, the potential benefits of sodium reduction are debatable; studies have shown that the reduction in blood pressure achieved by restricting salt is slim.

Recent data encompassing over 100,000 patients indicates that sodium intake between 3-6 g/day is associated with a lower risk of death and cardiovascular events compared with either a higher or lower level of intake. “Thus, guidelines advising restriction of sodium intake below 3 g/day may cause harm,” the authors write.

Processed foods happen to be major sources of not just sodium, but also of highly refined carbohydrates: that is, various sugars and the simple starches that give rise to them through digestion. The researchers comment:

“Compelling evidence from basic science, population studies, and clinical trials implicate sugars, and particularly the monosaccharide fructose, as playing a major role in the development of hypertension. Moreover, evidence suggests that sugars in general and fructose in particular may contribute to overall cardiovascular risk through a variety of mechanisms.”

Read the rest of this post at (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286795.php)

Is Sugar Worse Than Salt For Blood Pressure?

Dietary efforts to control high blood pressure have historically focused on limiting sodium, but the added sugar in processed foods may be a more important contributor to hypertension than added salt, according to two researchers who study the impact of the foods we eat on cardiovascular risk.

In a research review published Dec. 11 in the BMJ journal Open Heart, James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD, of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Mo., and Sean C. Lucan, MD, MPH, of Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York argued that the emphasis on lowering dietary sodium in guidelines aimed at reducing hypertension is misguided and not evidence-based.

Continue to read more at (http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Hypertension/49078)

But Prof Francessco Cappuccio, at the University of Warwick, said: “The emphasis on reducing sugar and not salt is disingenuous.
“Both should be targeted at population level for an effective approach to cardiovascular prevention.
“The shift in attention from salt to sugar is scientifically unnecessary and unsupported.”
Prof Tom Saunders, at King’s College London, said: “Cutting salt intake and losing weight will lower blood pressure, but the evidence for a direct effect of added sugar is tenuous.
“Salt intake has fallen in the UK as manufacturers have reduced the amount of salt added to food. This has also been accompanied by a fall in blood pressure.
“Added sugar intake is derived mainly from sugar-sweetened beverages, confectionery, cereal products such as cakes and biscuits.
“The easiest way to reduce added sugar intake is to limit sugar-sweetened beverage and confectionery consumption.”
Fruit and vegetables
The US experts focus on a particular type of sugar – added fructose – often found in processed foods and sugary beverages.
But they say naturally occurring sugars in whole foods, for example those in fruit and vegetables, are not a cause for concern.
Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey in England suggests most adults and children eat more sugar than recommended.
The World Health Organization recommends sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day – this works out at about a maximum of 50g (1.7oz) of sugar for the average adult.
But the global health body recently acknowledged that halving this, to 5% of total energy intake per day, would have additional benefits.

Fruit and vegetables

The US experts focus on a particular type of sugar – added fructose – often found in processed foods and sugary beverages.
But they say naturally occurring sugars in whole foods, for example those in fruit and vegetables, are not a cause for concern.
Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey in England suggests most adults and children eat more sugar than recommended.
The World Health Organization recommends sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day – this works out at about a maximum of 50g (1.7oz) of sugar for the average adult.
But the global health body recently acknowledged that halving this, to 5% of total energy intake per day, would have additional benefits.
Read more at (http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30416155)

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