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Research Updates | Cardiovascular disease

Effects of free sugars on blood pressure and lipids

07 / 03 / 17

This systematic review and meta-analysis compared diets containing a set amount of energy from free sugars versus the same amount of energy from complex carbohydrates (starch). The study looked at their effects on blood pressure and a range of blood lipid markers, including apo-A1 and apo-B. Body weight was also recorded. Twenty eight studies with 510 subjects were included. When free sugars were substituted for complex carbohydrates, no differences were found in systolic or diastolic blood pressure. There were increases in LDL and triglycerides (TG), however there was significant heterogeneity between studies, and differences were not significant after adjustment for publication bias. Subgroup analyses showed diets providing the highest total energy intake enhanced the effect of free sugars on total cholesterol and TG, although the increase in TG was no longer significant when studies with the highest risk bias were excluded, or only randomised trials were considered. Free sugars had no effect on body weight. The authors concluded that further independent trials are required to assess whether the reduction of free sugars improves cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Fattore E, Botta F, Agostini C, Bosetti C. Effects of free sugars on blood pressure and lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of nutritional iso-energetic intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2017;105(1):42-56