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Why Carbs are Raising your Blood Pressure (and why everyone PUNISHES Salt)

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Why Carbs are Raising your Blood Pressure (and why everyone PUNISHES Salt) – Thomas DeLauer

A meta-analysis, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, looked at 7 studies involving more than 6,000 people and found that salt restriction increased the risk of all-cause mortality in those with heart failure (1)

Another review, published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that sodium reduction resulted in a 1% decrease in blood pressure, a 3.5% decrease in hypertensives, but there was a significant increase in plasma renin, a 2.5% increase in cholesterol, and a 7% increase in triglycerides (2)

The researchers concluded that the slight reduction in blood pressure was overshadowed by these antagonistic effects, and that sodium restriction may have net negative effects at a population level

Sodium Overview

Salt is composed mostly of sodium and chloride and we can’t live without either – sodium and chloride play vital roles in nerve conduction, muscle contraction (including the heart), digestion and blood pressure

Our body regulates their concentrations so they don’t get too high or too low

Sodium’s concentration in our blood is maintained by water and the kidneys job is to maintain this concentration

Consume more salt and your kidneys will excrete it into the urine along with water to flush it out – Consume less salt and the kidneys will hold on to water to maintain the concentration

So when we consume salt, the blood pressure goes up slightly as the kidneys work to maintain the right concentration and vice versa

This has given us the belief that reducing salt in our diet will lower our blood pressure, which it will to an extent, but reducing salt in your diet has a minimal effect on lowering your blood pressure

Because salt is so vital to your health, your body will hold on to it in your bloodstream so it doesn’t get too diluted

**The only instance when salt can lead to hypertension is when there is an imbalance in the ratio between the salt and potassium in the diet**

Carbs (Sugar) and Blood Pressure

When the body produces too much insulin in response to a higher-carb diet, it causes blood pressure to increase

Hyperinsulinemia raises blood pressure, in part, by decreasing sodium and water excretion in the kidneys, and directly vasoconstricting blood vessels

Insulin resistance

As insulin levels rise, insulin resistance eventually develops – if insulin receptors are blunted and the cells grow resistant to insulin, magnesium can no longer be stored, so it passes out of the body through urination

When magnesium levels are too low, blood vessels are unable to fully relax, and this constriction raises blood pressure

And this creates an imbalance in sodium and potassium (which increases blood volume) and calcium and magnesium (which causes arterial constriction), driving up blood pressure

Nitric oxide

100% of fructose is metabolized in the liver, and the by product of fructose metabolism is increasing the liver’s production of more glucose and the byproduct of uric acid

Fructose elevates uric acid, which drives up blood pressure by inhibiting the nitric oxide (NO) in blood vessels – NO is regarded as the most important vasodilator and helps blood vessels maintain their elasticity and, as such, NO suppression leads to increases in blood pressure


1) Taylor RS , et al. (n.d.). Reduced dietary salt for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (Cochrane review). – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21731062

2) Graudal NA , et al. (n.d.). Effects of low sodium diet versus high sodium diet on blood pressure, renin, aldosterone, catecholamines, cholesterol, and triglyceride. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22071811

3) Sodium and Potassium Intake and Mortality Among US Adults. (2011, July 11). Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1106080

4) Review: The wrong white crystals: not salt but sugar as aetiological in hypertension and cardiometabolic disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336865/

5) Sodium-to-Potassium Ratio and Blood Pressure, Hypertension, and Related Factors. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4224208/

6) Low Potassium Linked To High Blood Pressure. (2018, October 24). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081109074611.htm

7) Evans CE , et al. (n.d.). Glycemic index, glycemic load, and blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28404579

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