How Carbs Raise Blood Pressure

Over time, I’ve found that the chronic intake of carbohydrates, especially the refined variety and sugars seems to cause quite a few issues in our systems. One of those issues, is increased blood pressure in some individuals. Another related phenomenon is how type 2 diabetics have high blood pressure accompanying their high blood sugar levels. Why does this happen?

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  1. When we eat, the digestible carbohydrates in our food are released into the blood stream as glucose. When this blood glucose is sensed, the beta cells in our pancreas release insulin, which through various mechanisms, reduces the glucose present in the blood.1
  2. When we’re eating a lot of carbs, therefore, there’s also a corresponding increase in our blood insulin levels.2
  3. Some of us have conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or prediabetes / IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) where our bodies are resistant to the effects of insulin, because of which additional insulin can be found circulating in the blood. This is called hyperinsulinemia.3
  4. Insulin causes our bodies to retain more sodium than usual, which would otherwise be expelled via urine.4–9
  5. Increased sodium in our bodies in turn, increases blood pressure.10–14

Interestingly, there is also a co-relation of sodium-sensitive hypertension with metabolic syndrome, including weight gain, for which one possible explanation is via the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity, via which one would tie dietary carbohydrates with increased insulin, which in turn would influence weight gain as well as increased blood pressure.

It might therefore be an interesting idea to reduce dietary carbs as a therapeutic intervention for high blood pressure. If you’d like to have a chat about your own health, use the button below to schedule a free session.


  1. 1.
    Ludwig D, Ebbeling C. The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model of Obesity: Beyond “Calories In, Calories Out”. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(8):1098-1103. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2933
  2. 2.
    Heller RF, Heller RF. Hyperinsulinemic obesity and carbohydrate addiction: the missing link is the carbohydrate frequency factor. Medical Hypotheses. Published online May 1994:307-312. doi:10.1016/0306-9877(94)90004-3
  3. 3.
    Thomas D, Corkey B, Istfan N, Apovian C. Hyperinsulinemia: An Early Indicator of Metabolic Dysfunction. J Endocr Soc. 2019;3(9):1727-1747. doi:10.1210/js.2019-00065
  4. 4.
    Horita S, Seki G, Yamada H, Suzuki M, Koike K, Fujita T. Insulin Resistance, Obesity, Hypertension, and Renal Sodium Transport. International Journal of Hypertension. Published online 2011:1-8. doi:10.4061/2011/391762
  5. 5.
    da S, do C, Li X, Wang Z, Mouton A, Hall J. Role of Hyperinsulinemia and Insulin Resistance in Hypertension: Metabolic Syndrome Revisited. Can J Cardiol. 2020;36(5):671-682. doi:10.1016/j.cjca.2020.02.066
  6. 6.
    Brands MW. Role of Insulin-Mediated Antinatriuresis in Sodium Homeostasis and Hypertension. Hypertension. Published online December 2018:1255-1262. doi:10.1161/hypertensionaha.118.11728
  7. 7.
    Friedberg CE, Koomans HA, Bijlsma JA, Rabelink TJ, Dorhout Mees EJ. Sodium retention by insulin may depend on decreased plasma potassium. Metabolism. Published online February 1991:201-204. doi:10.1016/0026-0495(91)90175-v
  8. 8.
    Brands M, Manhiani M. Sodium-retaining effect of insulin in diabetes. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012;303(11):R1101-9. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00390.2012
  9. 9.
    Sarafidis PA, Bakris GL. The Antinatriuretic Effect of Insulin: An Unappreciated Mechanism for Hypertension Associated with Insulin Resistance? Am J Nephrol. Published online 2007:44-54. doi:10.1159/000098955
  10. 10.
    Laatikainen T, Nissinen A, Kastarinen M, Jula A, Tuomilehto J. Blood Pressure, Sodium Intake, and Hypertension Control: Lessons From the                        North Karelia Project. gh. Published online June 1, 2016:191. doi:10.1016/j.gheart.2016.04.011
  11. 11.
    Qiu Y, Ye H, Fan L, et al. Serum Sodium Modifies the Association of Systolic Blood Pressure with Mortality in Peritoneal Dialysis Patients. Kidney Blood Press Res. Published online 2020:916-925. doi:10.1159/000510478
  12. 12.
    Houston MC. Sodium and Hypertension. Arch Intern Med. Published online January 1, 1986:179. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360130217028
  13. 13.
    Williams GH, Hollenberg NK. Sodium-sensitive essential hypertension: emerging insights into an old entity. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Published online December 1989:490-494. doi:10.1080/07315724.1989.10720318
  14. 14.
    Kawasaki T, Delea CS, Bartter FC, Smith H. The effect of high-sodium and low-sodium intakes on blood pressure and other related variables in human subjects with idiopathic hypertension. The American Journal of Medicine. Published online February 1978:193-198. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(78)90045-1

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