Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver are suggesting that the rising incidence of hypertension around the United States could be a result of that added spoonful of sugar that goes into our diets on a regular basis.

The study, conducted based on a review of data from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 2003 and 2006 seems to suggest that those who had additional sugar in the form of fructose had higher blood pressure than those who consumed sugar through fruits.

Doctors are worried about the steady rise in the number of Americans who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure over. Over the last 100 years, the percentage of Americans suffering from hypertension has gone up from about 10 percent to 30 percent.

In the past, studies have linked consumption of fructose, a chemical that makes up more than 50 percent of table sugar and 55 percent of high-fructose corn syrup, to high blood pressure in rats. There was no conclusive proof of the same association in humans.

The researchers compared diets and systolic blood pressure of all volunteers over a three year period and found that those who consumed more fructose had a higher blood pressure reading and a very high percentage of this group had bigger waistlines.

Deeper analysis of the data revealed that those who consumed around 75 grams of fructose from added sugars each day appeared to be more likely to suffer from hypertension. It was found that those with high sugar diets were 77 percent more likely to have blood pressure that was in the range of 160/100 or even greater.

American healthcare considers anyone having blood pressure of 140/90 and above to be hypertensive. The researchers also revealed that the correlation results remained unaltered even when volunteers controlled things like total calorie intake, amount of physical activity and presence of other health problems via consumption of salt, alcohol and carbohydrates.  

In practical terms, one could drink two or more 20-ounce bottles of soft drink and go over the maximum permissible limit of fructose ingestion. And doctors say that it is not just about the blood pressure risk. If excess sugar could cause hypertension, that in itself can lead to coronary artery blockages, strokes and chronic kidney disease.

The findings of the survey, which was published in the latest edition of the Journal of American Society of Nephrology, says that risk can be reduced easily by cutting back on foods with lots of sugar.