Sugar Worse Than Salt?

Sugar Worse Than Salt?Sugar Worse Than Salt?

Scientists have clashed over claims that sugar may be worse for blood pressure and heart problems than salt.

US experts say people need to place a greater focus on cutting sugar intake, and suggest the benefits of lowering salt levels are “debatable.”Their arguments are published in the journal Open Heart.

But other researchers have said the claims are “disingenuous and scientifically unnecessary.” They maintain both need to be reduced.

Researchers from St Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, and Montefiore Medical Center in the US reviewed a selection of evidence from basic science experiments, animal studies and human research.

They came to the conclusion that sugar - particularly fructose - may play a stronger role in high blood pressure and other cardiac conditions than salt. And they say lowering salt consumption under certain levels may do more harm than good.


The research team suggests attempts to reduce salt in processed food may drive people to eat more. 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. Data suggests most adults and children eat more sugar than recommended.

 Fruit & 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.