Nutrition in the News

Kandice Hamilton

Article Summary

Title: “Sugar, Not Salt, Is the Real Dietary Villain”

Author: Jennifer Abbasi

Source: Discover Magazine,

Publication date: July 23, 2015

According to the article and contrary to the conventional wisdom, sugar may have a larger impact on high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease than sodium. The author points out that there are many factors that contribute to these disease processes, and that perhaps we are narrowing in on just one of the smaller contributors to these health problems. She suggests that although sodium is a factor, it may not be as important as we have been taught. Although research has pointed to a high sodium diet as a factor especially for people with sensitivity to it, the impact of the processed sugar on our bodies may be even more significant for most other people and should be considered. Because of the high association between hypertension, heart disease, and obesity in America today, the author suggests that overall diet should be considered, specifically consumption of processed sugary foods. She pointed to research suggesting that there is a correlation between high processed sugar consumption and significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Article Critique

The author has written a number of articles for Discover Magazine, although only one on health and nutrition. Discover Magazine and Kalmbach Publishing Co. sponsored the article.

The article was fairly well written. Her writing style was very effective and persuasive, presenting evidence in the way of quotes from several experts in the field of research. I could not find any references other than the names and credentials of the researchers interviewed for the article. It was presented as research based, although I would call it into question due to lack of cited sources or links to any specific studies or research articles. Because science is evidence based, source citations are extremely important for credibility.

Some of the conclusions could be misleading. When discussion “salt sensitivity” and the effect that has on different people, she then stated, “So really, relatively few of us see meaningful blood pressure benefits from cutting salt.” I think that may have been a stretch. “Some” does not necessarily mean “relatively few”.

More evidence supporting the article could be found in an published statement by the American Heart Association. Although not substantiating all of her claims, supports some. I was also able to find the study done by DiNicolantonio as referred to by the article.

My largest critique would be her lack of references at the end, but overall I think her insights were thought provoking. Obesity is undeniably on the rise, and processed foods play a huge part in its incidence whether or not they play a role in cardiovascular disease. We would all do well to consider that limiting processed foods, especially sugar, would be a step in the right direction in helping fight disease.


Abbasi, J. (2015, July 23). Sugar, Not Salt, Is the Real Dietary Villain. Retrieved November 28, 2015, from

  • DiNicolantonio, J., & Lucan, S. (2014). Cardiac risk factors and prevention: The wrong white crystals: not salt but sugar as aetiological in hypertension and cardiometabolic disease. Open Heart 2014;1:1 e000167 doi:10.1136/openhrt-2014-000167

  • Howard, Ph.D., B., & Wylie-Rosett, RD, EdD, J. (2002). Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the Committee on Nutrition of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism of the American Heart Association. Circulation, 106, 523-527. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000019552.77778.04