Doctors always tell you to cut back on your salt intake if you've got high blood pressure. But there's something far more dangerous: a common sweetener found in most snack foods.

In fact, U.S. researchers found that consuming even modest amounts of this potent sweetener could increase your risk of high blood pressure by as much as 77 percent.

How can something so sweet be so bad?

On average, American men and women consume 22 teaspoons (or 90 grams) of sugar each day. And that's too much...about 22 teaspoons too much.

You see, aside from the obvious concerns about diabetes, sugar also messes with your heart function. In fact, it robs your body of magnesium. And without enough magnesium, your blood vessels constrict. So your heart has to pump harder to get the same volume of blood through narrower blood vessels, which results in high blood pressure.

HFCS--The worst of the bunch

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the worst culprit when it comes to sweeteners. It's a super-sweet, super-potent, and super-addictive form of sugar. (Take it from me, a former sugar addict.)

Manufacturers use HFCS to sweeten just about every packaged food product on grocery store shelves these days. You'll find it in bread, crackers, cereal, cookies, yogurt, ketchup, and even tomato soup! Of course, it's also used to sweeten soda and fruit juice.

It's become increasingly prevalent since the 1980s for three reasons. First off, it's cheaper than sugar. Secondly, it extends a product's shelf life. And, lastly, did I mention that it's addicting? No wonder we keep buying it!

Not surprisingly, it also seems to fast-track your weight gain. A recent study by Princeton scientists found that mice given a diet high in HFCS gained more weight than mice given the equivalent amount of sugar. Plus, there's the small problem of high blood pressure...

U.S. scientists uncover hypertension-sweetener link

Scientists from the University of Colorado examined nutritional data for 4,500 adults with no history of hypertension. They found that men and women who consumed 74 grams of HFCS each day (that's less than the average daily intake in the U.S.), significantly increased their risk of high blood pressure.

In fact, eating just 74 grams of high-fructose corn syrup each day resulted in a:

  • 26 percent increased risk of prehypertension (135/85 mmHg)
  • 30 percent increased risk of Stage 1 hypertension (140/90 mmHg)
  • 77 percent increased risk of Stage 2 hypertension (160/100 mmHg)

To put it in simpler terms, this means that drinking two and a half cans of soda a day will almost guarantee that one day you'll develop seriously high blood pressure.

And that day may be a lot closer than you think.

According to major study from last year, men who consumed a diet high in fructose experienced a spike in blood pressure after just TWO weeks! Yes, after just 14 days of eating foods filled with sugar, many of the men had serious blood pressure issues.

Yet, when the men eliminated the fructose from their diets, their blood pressure returned to normal.

What's it all mean for you?

Eliminating all sugar from your diet will be difficult. As a former sugar-addict trying hard to stay "on the wagon," I know first-hand.

But once you get past the initial cravings, I guarantee you'll start to feel and look better. It usually takes 21 days for the cravings to go away. Plus, now we know, you'll lower your hypertension risk as well.

Just remember, manufacturers sneak sugar into just about all packaged food products so you have to be very careful reading labels so you don't miss it. And if you really want to make an impact on your health, you'll need to throw out processed white flour products as well, since your body treats them just like sugar.

In terms of sweeteners, stay away from anything artificial, such as aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. I could devote a whole article warning you against these products and that still wouldn't cover it all. Aspartame is by far the worst offender. It turns toxic in the body and can cause serious illnesses.

The only sweetener I use on occasion is stevia. Derived from the stevia leaf, it's all natural and 300 times sweeter than sugar. So you only need a drop or two in your coffee. And best of all, unlike sugar, stevia has been shown to lower blood pressure in a recent clinical study!