Newark, DE—Added sugar is still bad, according to new research from the University of Delaware. But eating whole fruit is not—and is actually linked with a reduction in blood pressure.
Researchers note that the data is preliminary, given it’s drawn from a small sample size: 128 participants, mostly Caucasian, ranging from 65 to 80 years old. The results also don’t show cause and effect, just a strong correlation. That’s not to say that the results aren’t worth looking into, though.
The study looked at the influence of food groups and dietary added sugar on blood pressure levels—specifically, it looked at sucrose, glucose, and fructose, not sugar substitutes. Sheau Ching Chai, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Health and Nutrition at University of Delaware, said in a press release that fructose is metabolized very differently, and may contribute more to raising blood pressure than other types.
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“We’re not saying you can’t eat sugar,” Chai said. “The kind found naturally in whole fruit is fine.” Whole fruit contains sugar—but it also contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and a variety of other bioactive compounds. Those in the study who ate whole fruit had lower diastolic blood pressure, while those who ate added sugar had an increase in systolic and diastolic pressures.
The release notes that many people eat more sugar than is recommended by the American Heart Association—6 teaspoons per day for women, 9 for men—and much more sugar than is recommended by the DASH diet, which is intended to help with hypertension. The average American eats about 17 teaspoons per day. “In beverages, especially, you don’t see it,” said Chai. “You just drink it. But one 12-ounce can of soda has almost 10 teaspoons of sugar.”