Insulin’s Effect on Blood Pressure

lower blood pressureFebruary 19th, 2010 – In a previous article, I talked about how high carbohydrate diets can increase triglycerides (blood fats), or high cholesterol. It also appears that high carbohydrate consumption can increase hypertension, or high blood pressure.  Check this out.

It’s not actually the carbohydrates doing the damage; rather it’s their corresponding hormone – insulin.  The more carbs we eat, the more insulin our bodies pump into the blood stream to shuttle the glucose into cells for storage.  When we are in a hyperinsulinemic (high insulin) state, like the one you’re in when you eat a high carbohydrate diet, the kidneys will retain more sodium than normal. (1)  This is the body’s protective mechanism to maintain proper electrolyte balance, by retaining water to keep the sodium sufficiently diluted.  More water leads to increased blood volume, and thus more pressure on the walls of the blood vessels.

Insulin also stimulates the smooth muscle cells of the arterial walls, acting like a growth hormone and causing them to enlarge and thicken. (2) As they grow, the interior space of the blood vessels decreases, which further increases blood pressure.  Combine narrowed vessels with increased blood volume and you have a perfect recipe for a heart attack.

References –

1. Insulin and renal sodium retention in obese adolescents.

Rocchini AP, Katch V, Kveselis D, Moorehead C, Martin M, Lampman R, Gregory M.

Hypertension. 1989 Oct;14(4):367-74  PMID: 2676858

2. Protein Power

Dr. Michael Eades

New York, NY: Creative Paradox LLC (2000)

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